Using Art to Critique Government Spying of Citizens

Thanks to the efforts of Edward Snowden we know that illegal, immoral, and downright creepy spying by governments has been going on for years. It turns out that democratic governments around the world regular do mass surveillance of their people, something that authoritarian states are known for. Citizens have fought the spying in courts and artists have been fighting the spying the streets. This TED Talk looks at some work down in Germany (which is quite familiar with state-sponsnered spying).

In 2013, the world learned that the NSA and its UK equivalent, GCHQ, routinely spied on the German government. Amid the outrage, artists Mathias Jud and Christoph Wachter thought: Well, if they’re listening … let’s talk to them. With antennas mounted on the roof of the Swiss Embassy in Berlin’s government district, they set up an open network that let the world send messages to US and UK spies listening nearby. It’s one of three bold, often funny, and frankly subversive works detailed in this talk, which highlights the world’s growing discontent with surveillance and closed networks.

It’s Time to Reset the Net

One year ago today Edward Snowden revealed to the world evidence that many long suspected – that the American government is actively performing mass surveillance. Innocent people have been targeted and information the likes of which we’ll never fully know has been collected on nearly anyone who’s used the internet.

It’s not just the American NSA that is spying on the public – it’s global. In Canada, CSEC has been collecting mass data on the Canadian populace no matter who it is. In this sort of police state surveillance we need to operate as if everything we do online is being watched. This is NOT ok.

Today, June 5th, organizations like Mojang, Amnesty International, and even Google are calling for this intrusive spying to stop. The campaign Reset the Net is calling on websites, apps, and everything in-between to use technical solutions to make the mass surveillance run by governments more difficult. Governments shouldn’t be able to read your communications without due process.

Open Media has this to say:

In the year since we first learned the lurid details of the NSA’s dragnet spying operation, a massive wave of opposition has echoed across the world. Millions have taken action online and in the streets with one clear message: mass surveillance by any government is illegitimate. It violates our right to be ourselves, and undermines freedom of speech and democracy.

Despite the massive public outcry, a whole year after the revelations governments have failed to address our concerns. The NSA and other spy agencies are still tapping our phones and computers, while politicians endlessly debate our rights away.

Let’s work together to protect our privacy and send decision-makers a message they can’t ignore. Click here to learn how you can help Reset the Net.

Reset the Net

The Day We Fight Back Against Spying

Thanks HuffPo!

The Day We Fight Back against mass surveillance is today!

Thanks to Edward Snowden we have learned about America’s and other countries illegitimate and immoral mass surveillance operations. More revelations about the extent of the surveillance programs are sure to come. Just in the past couple of days it was revealed that the NSA operates a kill list based on SIM cards in cell phones regardless of who actually uses the phone.

The argument that we shouldn’t care about the surveillance because they only look at metadata is bunk. SIM cards are an example of the metadata the NSA (et. al) care about and it has led to too many civilian deaths from drone strikes.

People like myself find this type of surveillance to be rather problematic and insanely dangerous. If you’re in Canada be sure to tell your local MP that you are opposed to the spying done by Canada’s NSA: CSEC.

More than 5,300 web-based companies and other organizations, including Reddit, Imgur, Tumblr, Mozilla the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, have joined forces to protest National Security Agency surveillance on Feb. 11.

More at the Huffington Post.

A Protest Song About the NSA Reading Your Emails

The band YACHT has gone back to the glory days of Dylan and the like by writing a protest song. The song is about the NSA illegal spying the USA, which should bother pretty much anyone who cares about privacy. Until now, there was no good news to mention about the questionable actions revealed by Edward Snowden so hat tip to YACHT for singing what we all think.

“We claim full citizenship in the nation of Internet,” Evans told me over email, by way of explanation. “We wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for the existence of an open, free, and direct line to our fans–and to the world.” The idea that an intelligence agency could be listening-in struck Evans and Bechtolt as, well, creepy. “The analogy we’ve been using is that nobody wants to dance when there’s cops in the club,” says Evans.

The song came first, but soon after came the idea of putting it to work. The song became a pay-what-you-wish fundraising website for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the best-known advocacy groups pushing to keep the Internet free. Evans says the donations have rolled in “steadily” since the site launched, with the largest single donation coming in at $30.

Read more here.

As always, check out our the band of the month if you like music.

Google Stops Censorship in China

Google has changed how it approaches its business in China due to China trying to spy on some gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. THey have removed censorship from their search engine so now you can search for “Tiananmen Square” in China and get the same results the rest of get.

It’s a good day for internet freedom in China.

We launched in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that “we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.”

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China.

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

Read Google’s announcement here.

Scroll To Top