Tag Archives: surveillance

9 Problems of Government Hacking: Why IT-Systems Deserve Constitutional Protection

Published 20 February 2014 on Freedom to Tinker.

Governments around the world are increasingly hacking into IT-systems. But for every apparent benefit, government hacking creates deeper problems. Time to unpack 9 of them, and to discuss one unique perspective: in response to a proposed hacking law in 2008, the German Constitutional Court created a new human right protecting the ‘confidentiality and integrity of IT-systems’. The rest of the world should follow suit, and outlaw government hacking until its deep problems are addressed. Continue reading 9 Problems of Government Hacking: Why IT-Systems Deserve Constitutional Protection

Law and Justice: Breaking One Stupid Rule A Day for Moral Fitness

If something is legal, it doesn’t follow that it is just. A simple observation, but so often neglected. Failing to continuously question the tension between actual law and justice or morality is omnipresent. Take surveillance; whatever moustache-twirlingly evil practice is revealed, authorities across the globe primarily defend systematic spying by refering to deeply flawed and even secret law. Today, I read a passage of James Scott’s new book, in which he outlines ‘Scott’s Law of Anarchist Calisthenics’. It’s a hilarious and deeply inspiring way to reveal fundmantal tensions between law and justice – and my way to train moral fitness. Continue reading Law and Justice: Breaking One Stupid Rule A Day for Moral Fitness

ECHR Fast-tracks Court Case on PRISM and TEMPORA (and VERYANGRYBIRDS?)

So. The NSA and GCHQ piggyback on Angry Birds to spy on its 1.7 billion users. potential terrorists. Not only that, but everything on smartphones can be compromised: “if its on the phone, we can get it”. Will it ever stop? A few days ago, the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECHR’) made the unique move to fast-track a case on the legality of mass surveillance practices by the GCHQ. A judgement is now expected in months, rather than years – in time to have a huge impact on the global debate on mass surveillance. Time for some analysis. Continue reading ECHR Fast-tracks Court Case on PRISM and TEMPORA (and VERYANGRYBIRDS?)

Paper Repository on the NSA Revelations – Add Yours in the Comments [UPDATE]

Recently, I’ve been circulating a reading list of papers and reports on the NSA revelations on a couple of mailing lists. The writings take a step back from the nitty gritty details, and focus on the more fundamental issues that technical, legal and political responses need to address. People have been asking me to blog about it, so here’s a stub, and I encourage you all to add your suggestions in the comments. [UPDATE 25.02.14: added extra sources on securitization] Continue reading Paper Repository on the NSA Revelations – Add Yours in the Comments [UPDATE]

Signing Mass Surveillance Declarations and Petitions: Should Academics Take a Stance?

Published 30 Oct. 2013 at Freedom to Tinker.

Quite often, especially since the Snowden revelations began, tech policy academics will be approached by NGO’s and colleagues to sign petitions ‘to end mass surveillance’. It’s not always easy to decide whether you want to sign. If you’re an academic, you might want to consider co-signing one initiative launched today. Continue reading Signing Mass Surveillance Declarations and Petitions: Should Academics Take a Stance?

The Politics of the EU Court Data Retention Opinion: End to Mass Surveillance?

Published 13 Dec. 2013 at Freedom to Tinker.

The Wall Street Journal headlines: “EU Court Opinion: Data Retention Directive Incompatible With Fundamental Rights”. The Opinion is strong, but in fact not yet an outright victory to privacy and civil liberties. The jury is out: the Opinion is a non-binding, but influential advice to the E.U. Court, that will deliver its final judgment come next spring. Now is a perfect moment to analyze the Opinion, as well as the institutional politics of the E.U. Court — critical in understanding the two-tier approach to surveillance and fundamental rights in Europe. The two-tier approach converges, after 60 years, when the E.U. accedes to the European Convention of Human Rights anytime soon. Amidst the Snowden revelations, these are the fundamental legal developments that will ultimately answer the question whether European law can end mass surveillance. Continue reading The Politics of the EU Court Data Retention Opinion: End to Mass Surveillance?

The 2008 Liberty Case: An Authoritive Ruling on Snowden’s Disclosures

Published 30 Oct. 2013 at Freedom to Tinker.

The other day, I was re-reading the 2008 Liberty vs. The United Kingdom ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECHR’). The case reads like any BREAKING / REVEALED news report on Edward Snowden’s disclosures, and will play a crucial role in the currently pending court cases in Europe on the legality of the surveillance programs. Liberty is also great material for comparing surveillance jurisprudence across the Atlantic. Continue reading The 2008 Liberty Case: An Authoritive Ruling on Snowden’s Disclosures

When an Ethnographer met Edward Snowden

Published 18 Oct. 2013 at Freedom to Tinker.

If you talk about ‘metadata’, ‘big data’ and ‘Big Brother’ just as easily as you order a pizza, ethnography and anthropology are probably not your first points of reference. But the outcome of a recent encounter of ethnographer Tom Boellstorff and Edward Snowden (not IRL but IRP), is that tech policy wonks and researchers should be careful with their day to day vocabulary, as concepts carry politics of control and power. Continue reading When an Ethnographer met Edward Snowden

U.S. Citizenship and N.S.A. Surveillance – Legal Safeguard or Practical Backdoor?

Published 15 Oct. 2013 at Freedom to Tinker.

The main takeaway of two recent disclosures around N.S.A. surveillance practices, is that Americans must re-think ‘U.S. citizenship’ as the guiding legal principle to protect against untargeted surveillance of their communications. Currently, U.S. citizens may get some comfort through the usual political discourse that ‘ordinary Americans’ are protected, and this is all about foreigners. In this post, I’ll argue that this is not the case, that the legal backdoor of U.S. Citizenship is real and that relying on U.S. citizenship for protection is not in America’s interests. As a new CITP Fellow and a first time contributor to this amazing blog, I’ll introduce myself and my research interests along the way.   Continue reading U.S. Citizenship and N.S.A. Surveillance – Legal Safeguard or Practical Backdoor?

Data Retention: Figurehead of Our Liberation?

Back in 2010, I wrote a long piece in Dutch for De Groene Amsterdammer about the deplorable state of the controversial EU Data Retention Directive evaluation. My point was that, instead of the prime example of our loss of fundamental rights, data retention might one day become the case in point of digital freedom vindicating over surveillance, once the Directive in one way or another is repealed or its inherent privacy violations seriously limited.   Continue reading Data Retention: Figurehead of Our Liberation?

Data Retention Directive evaluation: expect the unexpected?

This piece was posted on the Bits of Freedom blog on 8 December 2010. I still think it is a quite accurate and informative take on the Data Retention Directive evaluation.

The evaluation of the controversial Data Retention Directive takes an unexpected turn, for the worse. At a crucial one-day conference in Brussels, aimed at gathering input for the evaluation, long-term critic of the Directive Commissioner Malmström (Home Affairs) surprisingly announced that ‘data retention is here to stay’. The statement not only disregards legal developments since 2005, the damage done by telecommunications data retention to 500 million Europeans and lack of evidence that such a measure is necessary and proportionate. On top of that, the Commissioner undermines the entire evaluation process and evidence-based decision making itself. To great risk, because our fundamental freedoms and the very nature of our free and open societies are at stake. Continue reading Data Retention Directive evaluation: expect the unexpected?