All of who care for freedom of information, speech and expression should be thankful for the recent ruling in my Twitter case. Thankful because it exposes the reality in which we live, at least according to the U.S. Department of Justice and one U.S. judge. The judge’s ruling exposed the blatant truth: that as the U.S. DOJ sees it, and at least according to this first judge, users of the Internet and social media sites hosted in the USA do NOT have any rights as individuals to defend themselves against the tyranny of authorities wanting to use the often sensitive information about us collected by services like Twitter. This includes critical information about the location, timing and recipients of our emails, conversations, messaging and social networking that are now fair game for the “thought police.” It is good that we know that this is how the prosecutors and one judge in the court system in the land of the free views our rights, because now we can do something about regaining those rights!
We are at critical point when it comes to freedom of information and speech. If we don’t act now it might be too late in a years’ time. Everything happens so fast in the realm of the Internet -- our rights are eroding every day at an alarming speed. I urgently suggest and call upon everyone who cares for their rights to their lives online to join me in fighting for these rights.
Here are a few examples that I find unsettling:
Google hosts our entire history of searching and they create a profile of every one of us as consumers so that they can make us targeted costumers for individually directed ads. This is why Google can maintain their services for free.
If authorities get access to some or all of this profiling as the DOJ maintains that they can – do you feel comfortable that they do? Consider this scenario: You are doing research on terrorists or the drug culture for an article or essay – all of your searching is now part of your profile. It is easy to build a very damning and erroneous profile of you simply based on your innocent research. The government maintains that most, if not all of this information is “non-content” and so reachable by them in the same way that my Twitter information was.
Many users do not understand that they are giving away all control of their web usage statistics. Personal data can be used against you in secret! This is very dangerous to those, like me, who are activists, journalists and researchers. It equally endangers the merely curious.
In George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984, a “thoughtcrime” was an illegal type of thought. Are we approaching the sad state of affairs where our public written communications, indeed our very thoughts are seen by an increasingly surveillance-obsessed totalitarian state as “thoughtcrimes”? Is this the kind of world we would wish for our children?
In the next few weeks I will work to gather as many as supporters as possible to be part of this joint action for our rights as users of social media. It will be an effort to our privacy rights and the right to defend our personal information online. Drop me an email if you have ideas on how to take this further so we may make a shockwave of change.