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This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Why bother about digital rights? An absence in the election campaigns

Digital rights are too often reduced to questions of ‘security’. In their election manifestos none of the major British parties appear to have grasped their wider significance.

NSA and the Stasi – a cautionary tale on mass surveillance

While the Stasi archive is overwhelming, today’s spies can gather far more information with a fraction of the effort. 

The cost of silence: mass surveillance & self-censorship

The true impact of mass surveillance on media freedom can be felt in the moments when writers hesitate to conduct internet searches. With every pause, there will be something missed, something underreported, an opportunity to question lost.

Digital citizenship: from liberal privilege to democratic emancipation

On the anniversary of the Magna Carta, a call for a new debate on the conception of citizenship. Let’s seize the opportunity to transform our utopian dreams into everyday life.

Why Britain won’t talk about crucial elements of Jihadi John’s story

The role of our security services in the actions of 'Jihadi John' needs grown up discussion – we must not forget the lessons of Northern Ireland.

Defending human rights in a digital age

Public Debate: Defending human rights in a digital age is being livestreamed from Goldsmiths media and communications department, University of London at GMT this evening. Listen here and read on.

Mass surveillance: wrong in practice as well as principle

The paradox of mass state surveillance, as the answer to non-state violence, is that it can overlook the intelligence targeted law enforcement finds and render critical infrastructures vulnerable—never mind threatening fundamental freedoms.

Report thy neighbour: policing Sisi’s Egypt

A regime bereft of legitimacy, save for its promise to guarantee national security, turns citizens into active players in a new culture of surveillance and reporting.

Police cooperation: another angle on the surveillance debate

Meet Bahar Kimyongür, a political activist arrested, detained, and released in three European countries on an unsubstantiated charge. His case shows citizens are disarmed when they are reduced to a name in a database. 

Behind the rise of the private surveillance industry in Central Asia

Multinational companies–including two listed on the NASDAQ–have been quietly providing Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan with increasingly sophisticated surveillance technology to aid state repression.

Democracy and terrorism: when definitions stifle free speech

Concepts like democracy, the constitution, and freedom of speech are slogans that are only meaningful in so far as they protect public faith in the American system.

A war of new connections

The close links between American surveillance of Africa and military facilities in England are revealed by campaigners working for non-violent social change.

The cost of digital silence in Turkey: 40 million euros

Turkey is known for attempts to control information contradicting official propaganda. However, a recent deal between the Turkish Government and a Swedish company running software to combat child porn could silence the digital opposition permanently.

Privacy, surveillance and the state-corporate symbiosis

The relationship between governments and private corporations is defined by symbiotic, complex interdependence. How can we ensure democratic control in these conditions?

Torture, the UK's role, "I'm satisfied that our system is dealing with all of these issues"

A new Senate report lays bare US involvement in torture. As for Britain's collusion, well, you'll just have to take David Cameron's word — they're handling things. What could possibly go wrong?

Mass surveillance just doesn’t work

It is possible, desirable and respectful of human rights to conduct targeted surveillance on identified suspects with independent judicial oversight. It doesn’t appear feasible, however, to collect information on everything and everyone en masse. So why keep doing it?

‘Every call you dial’: Limiting the reach of mass surveillance

A new film, CITIZENFOUR, examines the extraordinary reach of today's surveillance culture and calls for a proper system of proportion and accountability.

The Snowden reboot

On working with Edward Snowden, and how he changed the way we view our world. Interview.

The open society and its enemies

Oligarchs and government spies know where we are, what we want, and even our innermost thoughts. Who can protect us? Are whistleblowers like Snowden the white knights of the digital age? Or is the pursuit of radical openness itself the real threat we face? (Video debate, 32 minutes)

The Quantified Self community, lifelogging and the making of “smart” publics

Gary Wolf, co-founder, suggests that self-tracking and life-logging data may be about us, but they should also be ours to generate, harvest, access, manipulate, interpret, and use - even sell. 

Challenging the era of mass surveillance

Protecting our fundamental rights against the destructive effect of mass surveillance is an essential task that should engage us all.

Why your government doesn’t want you on a strict privacy diet, and what you can do about it

As Snowden’s revelations have had little impact on our online habits, expecting national governments or the EU to stand up against electronic surveillance misses the point.

The Fourth Branch: the rise of the national security state

Though the US may be finally addressing some of the fictions propping up its security policies, the question remains: who rules Washington? 

Net names for safe shelter

A proposal for making the net safer by combining Norwegian legislation with a new use for its unused digital domains.

A digital agenda for the new High Commissioner for Human Rights

Promoting, protecting and fulfilling human rights requires a secure Internet, but states misuse cyber security scares to threaten individual liberties. The High Commissioner can be a powerful voice promoting a right to cyber security while defending expression and privacy rights. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on the New High Commissioner of Human Rights.

A clear-eyed look at mass surveillance

The Snowden revelations on mass surveillance practices, especially by the US and UK, have triggered a global struggle over the right to privacy—and a report by the outgoing UN human-rights commissioner has set the terrain for the next phase.

Cop cams go global

Brazil´s military police have long equated law enforcement with warfare. But there are signs that the status quo is changing, and worldwide.

Saving privacy in the age of mass surveillance: do judges hold the key?

European courts have interpreted privacy in a holistic manner, addressing not only the challenges of mass surveillance to data protection and the right to a private life, but also defending privacy as vital to the relationship of trust between the individual and the state in any democracy.

China and Habermas's public sphere

There is a public realm, and it nurtures a society of free citizens. The painful, complex evolution of this idea in the People's Republic of China is one of the great struggles of the modern world.

The embedded power of algorithms

The recent revelations surrounding the manipulation of Facebook news feeds to affect the emotional state of users should not be understood as an isolated social experiment, but rather as one point within a far broader setting in which algorithms are powerful forces in everyday life.

An uncertain contract: “Hacking Team” and the collection of public data

New findings published by Kaspersky Lab, concerning the widespread state deployment of digital surveillance tools used in some countries to spy on political dissidents, journalists and human rights advocates, place a further question mark over the western liberal agenda.

Twenty-first century protest: social media and surveillance

The internet is a two-edged sword—a vehicle for mass surveillance on the one hand and the organisation of civil-society protest on the other.

“We had to wait for Snowden for proof”, an exchange with NSA whistleblower William Binney

The NSA preferred a much more expensive system of bulk collection of foreign data. That was a fatal choice as it deprived the NSA of understanding what it was monitoring and this permitted the planning of 9/11 to escape them, not to mention the surveilling of American citizens, which is unconstitutional.

All I can say is that you are uninteresting! An exchange with General Michael Hayden, Director of the NSA from 1999-2005

On the first anniversary of Ed Snowden’s revelations, this interview contributes to what we intend will become a growing, in depth exploration of the significance of surveillance for the future of humanity across the globe.

Global Preventive Security and its unbearable lightness

One now plays a part in one’s own protection. The institutions can help one to strengthen one’s preparedness. One must not blame them if they fail despite the promise of a maximum-security programme. 

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