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Privacy in the Era of Mass Surveillance: Why It Matters

It's Your Right

mayday logo“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation.
Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948, Article 12.

Surveillance Self-Defense Workshop

Wednesday, April 26th, 3:30-4:30 in the library's e-classroom
Bring your own device or use a library computer to practice ways to protect your privacy.

MAYDAY! Conference, May 3rd:
What Would You Do? Mass Surveillance and the Citizen

 

Privacy News

Selected news items.

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News from the EFF

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About the Snowden Revelations

In 2013, Edward Snowden began to disclose to the press classified information about a sweeping surveillance program conducted by the National Security Agency. The questions his actions raised continue to be debated. Is Snowden a traitor or a whistleblower? Is the NSA program a necessary safeguard or unconstitutional? Here are some sources for the Snowden revelations.

What Is Privacy?

From Privacy International:

Privacy is a fundamental right, essential to autonomy and the protection of human dignity, serving as the foundation upon which many other human rights are built.

Privacy enables us to create barriers and manage boundaries to protect ourselves from unwarranted interference in our lives, which allows us to negotiate who we are and how we want to interact with the world around us. Privacy helps us establish boundaries to limit who has access to our bodies, places and things, as well as our communications and our information.

The rules that protect privacy give us the ability to assert our rights in the face of significant power imbalances.

As a result, privacy is an essential way we seek to protect ourselves and society against arbitrary and unjustified use of power, by reducing what can be known about us and done to us, while protecting us from others who may wish to exert control.

Privacy is essential to who we are as human beings, and we make decisions about it every single day. It gives us a space to be ourselves without judgement, allows us to think freely without discrimination, and is an important element of giving us control over who knows what about us.

What is Mass Surveillance?

From Privacy International:

Mass surveillance is the subjection of a population or significant component of a group to indiscriminate monitoring. It involves a systematic interference with people's right to privacy. Any system that generates and collects data on individuals without attempting to limit the dataset to well-defined targeted individuals is a form of mass surveillance.

Under the methods that mass surveillance is now capable of being conducted, governments can capture virtually all aspects of our lives. Today it increasingly involves the generation, collection, and processing of information about large numbers of people, often without any regard to whether they are legally suspected of wrongdoing. At this scale, modern surveillance shifts the burden of proof, leads to an unaccountable increase in power, and has a chilling effect on individual action.

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Organizations

Want to keep up with the latest privacy advice? Check out these sites for ongoing updates and the latest news.

Librarian

Barbara Fister's picture
Barbara Fister
Contact:
I'm happy to meet to discuss your research in my office, over coffee, or wherever it's convenient for you.

Office: Library Lower Level (facing Beck Hall)
email: fister@gustavus.edu
phone: x7553
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