Freedom Online Coalition Basically Ignores Surveillance: Makes A Mockery Of Its Name

from the blathering-about-other-stuff-coalition dept

We already wrote about how US Secretary of State John Kerry made some tone deaf remarks about "online freedom" and transparency during his appearance at the Freedom Online Coalition meeting in Estonia last week. However, it appears that his remarks fit in well with the theme of the event, which appeared to be "big governments ignoring that whole state surveillance online thing." The Freedom Online Coalition is a group of 23 governments, including the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France and many others -- and you'd think they'd pay some attention to the very vocal concerns about how those governments are engaged in lots of online spying. In fact, a bunch of public interest groups sent a letter asking the FOC to live up to their state commitments, and respond to claims of human rights violations against journalists and others via state surveillance online.

But... that didn't happen:
A dominant theme that ran throughout the conference was erosion of credibility and doubt about member government follow-through on commitments to protect freedom online themselves, much less to serve as role models for other governments. Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans acknowledged the credibility gap facing the coalition and invited constructive criticism and debate about the proper limits of surveillance.

Yet while the final Tallinn declaration produced by FOC governments asserted that members would “[c]ollectively condemn – through diplomatic channels, public statements and other means – violations and abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms online as they occur in different countries throughout the world,” the declaration says little about reining in indiscriminate surveillance, nor does it acknowledge that mass surveillance chills freedom of expression and violates the right to privacy.
Perhaps the Freedom Online Coalition should start exploring a name change to more accurately reflect what they really represent.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Pawn to d4, May 7th, 2014 @ 12:27am

    But the name is accurate...

    ...the member governments have freedom online to engage in indiscriminate surveillance and privacy rights violations. Why should they give up their freedom to protect yours or mine?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    David, May 7th, 2014 @ 12:44am

    Here's my proposed name:

    Ministry of Cyberlove.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 1:10am

    You just don't get it, Mike. Surveillance is Freedom! Just like Fast Lanes are Net Neutrality. Try to keep up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 2:41am

    Here's a new name:

    Fucking Over the Constitution. They don't even have to change the initials.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    David, May 7th, 2014 @ 3:49am

    Re: Here's a new name:

    But it's an international endeavor, so it does not have anything to do with "the constitution" in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Ninja (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 4:26am

    UK? US? Might as well add China and Russia. They are as worried about freedom and privacy as those two.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    scotts13 (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 5:25am

    Since when is it a surprise

    ...that anything having to do with government and politics is named the exact opposite of what it really is? Plenty of examples, but "Patriot Act" springs immediately to mind. They name them what the public wants to hear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 6:23am

    Hello from Finland

    Apparently local 'wannabeterrorists' AKA politicans and lawyers has again ruined their public trust. Idiots...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    art guerrilla (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 6:25am

    unfortunately, this is reality...

    which quotes J. Michael Straczynski: 760992300602302&id=139652459402959 []
    It doesn't matter how much food costs increase, doesn't matter if you can only afford fast food, we will always be able to buy steak. And we will invest heavily in fast food stocks to ensure we make money off this. Doesn't matter how much gas costs, we will always be able to afford it.
    In addition to poor food choices and health coverage, your kids will grow up without proper nutrition which will cause them problems on every level, from physical to educational difficulties. Our kids will grow up straight and true and healthy.
    It doesn't matter how much an education costs, doesn't matter if your kids can't afford to go to college or come out with massive debt, we will always be able to send our kids to university. And because a lot of our income is derived from tax incentives and taxpayer-financed bailouts your taxes are sending our kids to school. But you do not have the right to any of our money to send your kid to school.
    If you or your kids want to start a business, you will find that because we've sucked all the money out of the economy, there is simply no available cash around to help you finance your startup. (Unless you want to go to your friends online at sites like Indiegogo, and isn't that just cute?) We just cut our kids a check and tell them to go have fun.
    Your kids are born with a glass ceiling above which they will almost certainly never have the opportunity to rise. Our kids are born with a marble floor beneath which they will never be allowed to fall.
    If you accidentally provide incorrect information on your tax return, you could lose your house, your possessions, and your livelihood. We lie all the time on our tax information and none of us ever have to deal with this. We squirrel away trillions of dollars in overseas accounts and do all we can to ensure that your money never leaves our control because we'll doubtless need to scoop out more of it soon.
    You live in a Company Town; we pay you to work for us, while making sure that we own all the stores in town that sell our goods, the doctors offices where you go in town, the restaurants where you eat, and that we charge you just enough to make sure that at the end of the week you don't have any leftover money to squirrel away, so you can never leave the company town, can never get ahead, and can never risk criticizing the company town. You work for us. We own the town where you live. We own you.
    If one of you takes a hundred dollar bill from the cash register, you will go to jail. If we take billions out of the savings of ordinary people then crash the economy, costing thousands of jobs, not one of us will ever be prosecuted. Because the New Aristocracy is above such things. So we'll just keep on doing it. Enjoy the ride.
    Your local police belong to us now. We have militarized them into soldiers who treat you like terrorists. If you speak against us, we will ensure that you are tear gassed and beaten and handcuffed and caged into “free speech zones†designed to make you forget that the whole country was supposed to be a free speech zone. But now you have free speech only when and where we say you can have it. Meanwhile, we can say and do pretty much anything we want, to you or anyone else, and get away with it.
    If you happen to figure out our game and talk about it, we will accuse you of Class Warfare, in order to distract anyone from realizing that yes, there was a class war, that it was against you, that the war is over, and we won.
    Yes, you get a chance to vote for congresspeople and senators and presidents. But only after we've decided, long before the first ballot is ever cast, which candidate we will finance. Those we like, those who will give us what we want first and foremost, we will finance and you will get to vote on one of the two pre-screened candidates we have given you. If we don't like them, if we think they will challenge us, we will not finance them and you will never have the chance to vote on them. Because you don't get a real vote in the New Aristocracy.
    We own the White House. We own Congress. They pass the bills we write for them. They make the laws we want them to make, and make sure that they only limit you, never us. We own the courts. We own the lawyers. They are the club we use to beat you into submission.
    There are no Democratic or Republican Senators, or Congresspeople or Presidents. Those parties have not existed for decades. There is only the Party of the New Aristocracy. The rest is Kabuki theater. It is Mexican Wrestling. It is the illusion of choice, of difference, of democracy. This is not a democracy. It is a monarchy of money. In that monarchy, we are the Aristocracy, the royalty, and what we say, goes.
    If you dump trash illegally, you will be fined and potentially arrested. If we dump hundreds of tons of toxic waste into rivers and streams, none of us will ever be arrested and if we are fined, we will simply raise our prices so that you are the one to actually pay for what we did.
    We are the New Aristocracy, and we do not pay fines.
    We are the New Aristocracy, and we are immune from prosecution.
    We are the New Aristocracy, and we find your poverty and your powerlessness and your struggles disgusting. You are beneath us.
    Understand something: we don't want you to succeed. We don't want someone coming along to slice the pie into smaller pieces. We want to own all of it. If we really wanted more of you where we are, do you think we would have spent the last thirty years consolidating every major company into smaller and smaller groups owned by fewer and fewer people?
    We are the New Aristocracy because we were born into it. We got our money the old fashioned, Medieval way: our parents gave it to us. We were born into the wealth that we stole from you and your family over the last fifty years. You were not born into anything other than poverty and struggle. You will never be us. You will never have our advantages. And we like it that way.
    We like that you peer through the bars of your cage to all that we have. We like that you think you can have it yourself one day. Because that illusion keeps you on our side. But you will never have those things. We've made sure of that. Because what you're looking at is ours, and we do not share.
    The world we have carefully constructed for you is like one of those boardwalk games of chance where if you knock down the big pins with a baseball, you win a huge prize. But the pins are weighted and positioned so that you will never, ever knock them down. Yet you'll keep paying anyway, and keep throwing, until you exhaust yourself and your wallet. And we like it that way.
    We don't want you to have opportunities, we don't want you to have an education, we don't want you to have a voice in what happens to you, we don't want you healthy, we don't want you to do anything but be frightened, helpless, docile consumers who will eat and watch and buy what we tell you to eat and watch and buy while we keep all the good stuff to ourselves.
    Because you're not in our club.
    Because we are the New Aristocracy.
    And you are the New Peasants.
    And we very, very, very much like it that way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Pragmatic, May 7th, 2014 @ 9:28am

    Re: unfortunately, this is reality...


    And, may I point out, it was supply-side snake oil that put this crap in place. Can we please stop pretending there is any such thing as a free market?

    The New Aristocracy owns the freakin' market and the New Peasants are one of the products — as labor or as data. Work, peasants. If you work hard enough perhaps you too will be able to join the New Aristocracy.

    Good luck with that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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