Some 562 authors from around the world, including five Nobel Prize winners, chose today, International Human Rights Day, to mount a defense of those rights against corporate/government surveillance in a petition campaign that, I think, does a credible job explaining why rights such as those contained in the 4th Amendment are a big deal to any would-be democratic society:
In recent months, the extent of mass surveillance has become common knowledge. With a few clicks of the mouse the state can access your mobile device, your e-mail, your social networking and Internet searches.
It can follow your political leanings and activities and, in partnership with Internet corporations, it collects and stores your data, and thus can predict your consumption and behaviour.
The basic pillar of democracy is the inviolable integrity of the individual. Human integrity extends beyond the physical body. In their thoughts and in their personal environments and communications, all humans have the right to remain unobserved and unmolested.
This fundamental human right has been rendered null and void through abuse of technological developments by states and corporations for mass surveillance purposes.
A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy.
To maintain any validity, our democratic rights must apply in virtual as in real space.
* Surveillance violates the private sphere and compromises freedom of thought and opinion.
* Mass surveillance treats every citizen as a potential suspect. It overturns one of our historical triumphs, the presumption of innocence.
* Surveillance makes the individual transparent, while the state and the corporation operate in secret. As we have seen, this power is being systemically abused.
* Surveillance is theft. This data is not public property: it belongs to us. When it is used to predict our behaviour, we are robbed of something else: the principle of free will crucial to democratic liberty.
The question is whether any such efforts, no matter by which group of luminaries of whatever large size, are capable of stopping the current Spy State, especially in the U.S. where, incredibly in my opinion, it operates with the blessings of a Congress blinded by the likes of money and partisan hatred, and a President apparently grasping at the illusion of total security in what has always been a somewhat dangerous world.
Cynic though I am, I signed the petition nonetheless.