Editorial by the AEDH President: “To Chelsea, Edward and the others”

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At the end of January 2017, on the occasion of Data Protection Day, AEDH wants to pay tribute to those women and men who did not want to give up their citizen’s rights for State’s interest or for suspect affairs driven by private companies.

The “crimes” of Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden are only crimes under the assumption of so called superior interests. As if the excesses of the fight against terrorism and the protection of business secrets are the elements that would allow governments to take a step back from the rule of law and violate the rights of individuals and public freedoms.

Those measures are considered illegal by practically all independent authorities in charge of digital rights (maybe not in Russia, Turkey, Syria, China.. or elsewhere! But we cannot talk about independent authorities then). There are two arguments used by the actors promoting such practices of invading citizens’ privacy.

First argument: “if you don’t have anything to hide, you should not fear surveillance”. The major problem here is the varying definition of what is illegal. Police services are then strongly tempted to consider that what has not been controlled is a wrongdoing.

The second argument is to assure people that providing their personal data, their digital DNA is quite a good idea because it is useful – while at the same time profiling helps to strengthen predictive models of different kinds of behaviors. In many parts of the world today, justice is using explanatory models for studying delinquency: you better be lucky then while you are giving away your personal data.

Shocking and unacceptable acts of terrorism have become part of the political landscape of our countries. At the same time, security measures are taken in order to counteract this trend putting rights and freedom into brackets. No matter if it is illegal, the assumed efficiency of security policy prevails giving little importance to international conventions and constitutional rules.

On this 28 January 2017, while in the United States of America, Donald Trump arrived at the White House in a hullabaloo of inequalities, corrupt practices, disrespect of rights and freedoms and racism. We can thank Chelsea, Edward and all the other whistleblowers for having rung the bell and we hope that we will win this fight for our rights.

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