News about how intelligence agencies and corporations use private information of internet users has become commonplace. Recently, the court cancelled the fine for “Rambler” for refusing to reveal the correspondence of users. And Edward Snowden seems, settled in Russia for a long time. We decided to find out why online activists sacrifice their lifes for what most users do not consider important.
The largest internet corporations such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo!, AOL, PalTalk and Dropbox for six years have been providing the US government direct access to their central servers, according to The Washington Post. No one minds it (unless it concerns Edward Snowden, who revealed the PRISM program) – and yet nothing has changed, states and private corporations monitor users on the Internet without warning. Total control, surveillance cameras, automated system of recognition and non-judicial access to personal data – that’s how the world looks today.
Slides from the presentation of the program PRISM, provided by
Edward Snowden via media
Today’s online activists are obviously doing something very important and dangerous for the modern world order, but most ordinary people still do not realize what it is. Here’s an example of an ordinary City FM listener, who called to discuss the PRISM: «[What if] people do not launder their money, do not sell state secrets, do not do anything wrong. Yes, let them follow, it does not matter … … I do not see a problem. It seems to me that all this is overblown strongly enough. It’s allright, if there’s a crime. If there’s no any violation of the law, who cares that we are wathched?”
After the publication of news about PRISM, 45% did not care that their data can be processed by special services. Why do some people sacrifice their lives defending freedom of information and privacy when the others completely do not care? Is there any good reason to worry about the tapping, if you’re innocent?
In November 2011, one of the founders of the Diaspora social network Ilya Zhytomyrskii was found in his apartment with a black bag on his head. On the contrary to conspiracy theories, he committed suicide as he realized that he fails to develop a popular, open and protected as much as possible “anti-Facebook». The first social network in which each user is able to control what personal information and to whom to give, failed. Four students, inspired by the ideas of Professor Moglen, could not create a new type of social network – a “private non-profit, distributed decentralized social network built on the basis of the free software with open source code.”
In January 2013 the world lost another internet activist – the creator of RSS protocol and one of the developers of Reddit Aaron Schwartz. 26-year-old online activist downloaded millions of free documents from the online library JSTOR to place them in the public domain – and could be sentenced to 30 years in prison. Schwartz was an idealist and sacrificed himself for others to see the absurdity of today’s legal system on the Internet. But, unfortunately, he is know mainly among programmers, hackers and copyright fighters.
Imagine that all this doesn’t exist and the Federal Security Service, the CIA and the intelligence services of other countries are crystal clear. They really do their duty and stand in defense of the country. Then there is another problem: if the personal information is stored not only by you, then it may become the property of criminals. In the UK, which now builds powerful security on the Internet, the number of hacker attacks in the last five years has increased tenfold. Your fingerprints, data on revenues, distinguishing marks – all of this can be used not only to rob you, but in order to confuse the security services and to set up innocent persons.
In today’s world the Internet is no longer a different dimension – this is a place where we spend most of the time. And yet we’re surprisingly passive. Indifference and inaction are not exempt from responsibility for what the Internet can become in a few years. Back in 2006, author of the book “Beyond Fear” Bruce Schneier said: «Considering confidentiality as when you’re hiding something – is fundamentally wrong. Privacy is a human right.” 7 years passed, private information is under more questions, and Americans more and more often recall the phrase of Benjamin Franklin: “If between liberty and security people choose the security, they lose both.”