Privacy and surveillance

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All of our digital communications are based on networks which are vulnerable. Intelligence agencies exploit this vulnerability by passively monitoring most of our communications – often through cooperation with service providers. In other cases, intelligence agencies intercept our communications and tap into the fibre optic cables which make up the backbone of the internet. And in other more aggressive cases, they redirect connections to malicious servers for the implantation of malware.

Companies we “trust”, like Google or Facebook, play a role in all of this too. If your country passed a new law which required you to hand over your browsing history, contacts, personal pictures, interests, financial status and political beliefs to authorities…how would that make you feel? We are indirectly doing that already by handing over such data to corporations which sometimes share our data with intelligence agencies and/or are not (always) in a position to prevent agencies from hacking into their data centres.

Big data is big business indeed. Countless companies in the data brokering scene are part of a business which collects, analyses and aggregates our data and which profits out of selling our profiles to various third parties – ranging from banks and insurance companies to service providers and law enforcement agencies. Most of this takes place behind the scenes, largely without our knowledge or consent.

Whether we realize it or not, we are all part of a global surveillance ecosystem. Rather than surveillance being the exception for “national security” purposes, surveillance has become the default mechanism of our new, digitized world. This means that almost everything we say and do is being monitored, analysed and stored. Almost everyone we associate with is being mapped. Almost everything we are likely to think of, do and say in the future might be predicted by algorithms. This is concerning because:

  • algorithms are not infallible
  • the chilling effects of surveillance can reduce the range of viewpoints expressed and thus the degree in which to engage in political activity
  • surveillance limits our freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom from suspicion and our freedom to defend our human rights

This is not the type of world I want to live in.

Creating a world with better respect for human rights has always been hard, but not impossible.

This section of this website aims to raise awareness about these issues.


‘The Illusion of User Choice‘, Boomerang Effect, 13th April 2018 ‘7 reasons not to shrug at the Snowden revelations’, Tactical Technology Collective, 5th June 2015 ‘Nothing to Hide? Asking the Wrong Question!’, Tactical Technology Collective, 4th June 2015 ‘Nothing to Hide? Stories our Data Tells About Us’, Tactical Technology Collective, 3rd June 2015 ‘Nothing to …

Privacy in India

‘Interview with Mathew Thomas from the Say No to UID campaign – UID Court Cases’, Centre for Internet and Society, 27th January 2014 ‘Interview with Dr. Alexander Dix – Berlin Data Protection and Freedom of Information Commissioner’, Centre for Internet and Society, 23rd October 2013 ‘The India Privacy Monitor Map’, Centre for Internet and Society, …

Surveillance in India

‘The Surveillance Industry in India’, Centre for Internet and Society, 14th March 2015 ‘Policy Recommendations for Surveillance Law in India and an Analysis of Legal Provisions on Surveillance in India and the Necessary and Proportionate Principles’, Centre for Internet and Society, 14th March 2015 ‘Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) and Cross Border Sharing of Information …