Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Charlie Habdo, surveillance state and privacy

I have been thinking and reading a lot about privacy on the internet lately. I also went to watch Citizenfour, a documentary movie that films how Snowden brought NSA secrets to public and genuinely raises issue of privacy once again. And then there happened this barbaric attack on press, Charlie Habdo.

Aftermath of the incident, there is real discussion on how terrorists can easily do that magnitude of attack and how intelligence services all around the western world aren't doing enough to tackle that. And to make latter more effective, first thing most of the politicians are looking into is surveillance, with British PM Cameron openly calling to have access to every communication we make on internet or phone or any device. No wonder we already know, GCHQ has a more power over it's citizen than any other intelligence agency.

And not a surprise, the German counterpart are also seeking for more power. Till now, Germany has better privacy laws partly because of it's dark history, first by Nazi's misuse of Jews population data and and few decades later by extensive spy network of East German secret police Stasi on it's own citizen, and total tragedy that brought in society.

The second thing they seem to be interested is in censorship. Indeed, it is already happening with Indian police reportedly blocking contents that published Charlie Habdo related cartoons

Now, both of these measures they plan to take directly collides with our basic right. With the NSA revelation, I had some hope that there would be some kind of pressure from public to restrict power over our information. That didn't happen. And Charlie Hubdo attack will sure further dampen discussion of privacy. 

Shall we give up our privacy and some freedom to fight terrorism? Will doing so will improve our security? Who will have access to our secret information? Won't anyone misuse that information whenever they can (history repeating itself?)? Or shall we protect our privacy and freedom no matter what?

Sadly, there are just questions with no answer. It doesn't give good feeling either way. May be Chuck Palahniuk was wrong in saying that 'we hadn't had great depression or great war'. Probably, challenges of our generation are in different shape and form.

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