Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Deibert on surveillance and the future of the Internet

Must-read speech by Ron Deibert on surveillance and the future of the Internet:
Some of my colleagues in civil society feel that citizens should “take the Internet back” — bypass or ignore governments and private companies altogether because they can no longer be trusted.

Not only is this impossible, it is undesirable.

Without organized government, without the rule of law, the very rights we cherish would quickly diminish in a Hobbesian world of might makes right.

Instead, I believe that civil society needs to put forward a security strategy for cyberspace from the starting point of human rights and the rule of law.

We have to begin by asking: security for whom? security for what?

Part of that process must involve a reasonable and open discussion about the rule of law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the world of Big Data and the Internet of Things.

At the very time that we are turning our digital lives inside out, entrusting our thoughts, actions, and intimate conversations to private companies, we are delegating power and authority to secure this space to some of the world’s most secretive and unaccountable national security agencies.

To be clear, law enforcement and intelligence agencies are essential to the protection of commerce, rights, and governance. But wholesale surveillance without independent judicial oversight is incompatible with liberal democracy and human rights.

Furthermore, we have to give meaning in the real world to the idea of “multi-stakeholderism.” The term is mouthed so often by those who do not practice what they preach that it has become an empty euphemism.

Finally, we have to lift the lid on the Internet and subject it from the bottom to the top, from the code all the way up to forums like this, subject them all to proper oversight, transparency, accountability, and legal restraint.

The Internet is ours — all of ours. It is what we collectively make of it. We need to remember that before it slips through our grasp.

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