Academics, Authors Worldwide Start 2014 Strongly Against Surveillance 06/01/2014 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 3 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)More than 250 academics from around the world have signed a declaration strongly calling for a stop to surveillance of citizens’ communications online by US and European authorities. And in December, more than 500 top authors joined a coalition called Writers against Mass Surveillance calling for international rules to curb wholesale surveillance. “Intelligence agencies monitor people’s Internet use, obtain their phone calls, email messages, Facebook entries, financial details, and much more,” the academics’ declaration states. “Agencies have also gathered personal information by accessing the internal data flows of firms such as Google and Yahoo. Skype calls are ‘readily available’ for interception. Agencies have purposefully weakened encryption standards – the same techniques that should protect our online banking and our medical files. These are just a few examples from recent press reports. In sum: the world is under an unprecedented level of surveillance. This has to stop.” The academic declaration is available here. The academics reach across every continent and fields such as human rights, law, privacy, sociology, security and media. They were spurred by the discoveries of surveillance revealed last year Edward Snowden. Signatures are still being collected. The remainder of the January 2014 declaration is as follows: “The right to privacy is a fundamental right. It is protected by international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. Without privacy people cannot freely express their opinions or seek and receive information. Moreover, mass surveillance turns the presumption of innocence into a presumption of guilt. Nobody denies the importance of protecting national security, public safety, or the detection of crime. But current secret and unfettered surveillance practices violate fundamental rights and the rule of law, and undermine democracy. The signatories of this declaration call upon nation states to take action. Intelligence agencies must be subjected to transparency and accountability. People must be free from blanket mass surveillance conducted by intelligence agencies from their own or foreign countries. States must effectively protect everyone’s fundamental rights and freedoms, and particularly everyone’s privacy.” One academic signatory, Cambridge University Head of Cryptography Ross Anderson, in a Forbes interview called for the abolition of the UK Security Service, also known as MI5, according to sources. Famous Authors United Meanwhile, in December, nearly 600 of the world’s best-known authors, including five Nobel Prize winners, joined together in a coalition called Writers Against Mass Surveillance. The authors, from 81 countries, called for a charter curbing spy agencies, which have been shown to be conducting widespread surveillance. The authors published an open letter and promoted a petition, available here. Among other demands, it calls on the United Nations to “acknowledge the central importance of protecting civil rights in the digital age, and to create an International Bill of Digital Rights,” and for governments to sign such a convention. The five Nobel Prize winners are: Orhan Pamuk, J.M. Coetzee, Elfriede Jelinek, Günter Grass and Tomas Tranströmer. Other signatories include: Umberto Eco, Margaret Atwood, Don DeLillo, Ian McEwan, Martin Amis, Daniel Kehlmann, Nawal El Saadawi, Arundhati Roy, Henning Mankell, Richard Ford, Tom Stoppard, Javier Marias, Björk, David Grossman, Arnon Grünberg, Angeles Mastretta, Juan Goytisolo, Nuruddin Farah, João Ribeiro, Victor Erofeyev, Liao Yiwu and David Malouf. Bestselling author McEwan told the Guardian: “Where Leviathan can, it will. The state, by its nature, always prefers security to liberty. Lately, technology has offered it means it can’t resist, means of mass surveillance that Orwell would have been amazed by. The process is inexorable – unless it’s resisted. Obviously, we need protection from terrorism, but not at any cost.” The authors’ letter stated: “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.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related William New may be reached at email@example.com."Academics, Authors Worldwide Start 2014 Strongly Against Surveillance" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.