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What We Need to Learn from Snowden

Only by organising politically for human rights, including privacy rights, can we raise awareness of the dangers of Big Brother state surveillance.

Edward Snowden heroically demonstrated to the world the extent to which the United States (US) and some other countries have converted the internet into a system for general surveillance of everyone. They do this largely on the basis of corporations’ surveillance: even if a company only wants to know what sort of ads to show you, the data it collected will be available to Big Brother.

We knew already that tyrannical states such as China, Tunisia, Libya and Iran did their utmost to monitor internet users. We had no proof that “free” countries did it too. For years, I have said in my speeches that I suspected the US government used the Patriot Act periodically to collect all the personal data from certain companies, simply because I saw that that law would permit it and the US government tends to stretch its legal powers; however, such suspicions are easy to dismiss as “paranoia”. Thanks to Snowden, we know the US really does this with telephone companies. Meanwhile, India plans to practise phone and internet surveillance without even the flimsy “limits” that govern the National Security Agency (NSA).

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