Snowden and other human rights activists talk about internet surveillance in the BLM era
All experts agreed that restrictions on freedom on the internet pose a threat to spontaneous protests.
On Friday, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden led a roundtable discussion as part of a fundraiser for the Tor project.
Snowden was joined by Bitcoin Formula three experts on internet privacy and human rights. The four focused on the global protests of the past year, from Minsk to Portland.
The founder of the Library Freedom Project, Alison Macrina, said:
„What we noticed strongly this summer, with BLM protests across the country and around the world, was […] law enforcement monitoring of activists‘ social media.
He also noted that over time protesters have begun to pay more attention to the fact that law enforcement agencies were using the internet to monitor them:
„One thing that has become omnipresent in the US since the summer riots is that people do not share photos or videos of strangers‘ faces. The awareness and knowledge of what the threats are has really changed, and this is surprising.
Berhan Taye from Access Now, an expert on the use of the internet and the African continent, discussed recent ethnic tensions in northern Ethiopia:
„There is an armed conflict in the Tigray region and one extremely important thing we know is that the internet was cut there about a month ago.
According to Taye, many inhabitants of the area have started using Sudanese SIM cards to get around the isolation
This was followed by a massacre of 600 civilians, in which citizens were targeted not only because of their ethnicity, which is reported on their ID cards, but also because of the presence of Sudanese SIM cards in their phones.
Addressing the American public, Snowden pointed out that mass surveillance „is not something that happens in some country far away from us“, although there are various levels of intensity. Snowden referred to the planes, clearly visible on flight monitors, that were monitoring the BLM protests near Baltimore and collecting telephone data from the protesters.
According to Snowden, „we have a two-tier system, where the government can act freely while citizens are stopped.
During the summer, many talked about the role of decentralisation in the protection of protesters. As experts have observed, encrypted messaging platforms such as Signal and Telegram have become fundamental for the organisation worldwide.