The real impact of surveillance

The Government are finally having conversations about surveillance, but unfortunately they are simply framing it as an Us vs Them story, a choice between security and privacy. 

Yet for many people surveillance makes them less safe: it’s not the security blanket politicians are holding it up to be. Job-seekers under surveillance can lose income needed to survive if their online activity fails to match up to job search demands. People interested in campaigning hestiate over getting involved with movements for social justice when the police count activism as akin to domestic terrorism.

It’s clear that surveillance affects a broad group of people, with real painful consequences for their lives. We’ve seen journalists being monitored, lawyers having their client confidentiality broken, victims of police misconduct being spied on and environmental campaigns infiltrated. These people are not criminals, and yet when we have a system of mass surveillance, they become targets for increasingly intrusive powers. 

We also know that state surveillance stigmatises certain groups of the population, it targets communities and networks. Innocent people who share similarities with suspects, (similar Skype chat user names, nearby places of worship, physical location) fall under intense scrutiny, like having their private web cam chats examinedMass surveillance disproportionally affects marginalized groups and fosters mistrust.

When ORG defends privacy, we are fighting to protect people from abuses of power that leave them vulnerable.

This is why the steady drip of anti-terror laws that give the police and spies more and more surveillance powers saddens and scares me. Surveillance plays a huge role in shutting people down, attacking those already discriminated against and hurting those who try and change the status quo. 

Will you help us campaign against abuses of power over our security in the general election?

The Government has put more surveillance on the agenda, saying they would try again with the Snoopers’ Charter, and weaken online security. But there needs to be a strong voice advocating for our civil liberties, and for a surveillance system that people can hold accountable.

ORG are doing that work now. We do it by bringing our campaigns to the courts where we’re got a case challenging surveillance in the European Court of Human Rights and we’ve intervened in a judicial review of our surveillance laws. We work in Parliament where we have given evidence in committees and met with MPs. We have mobilised our supporters through letter writing, petitions, consultation responses and more, every time the right to privacy is under threat. I’m really proud of how much ORG does, and excited by the commitment of our supporters and members to our work. However, we’re up against those who will always keep pushing for more surveillance and more powers at any excuse. 

There is a long history of surveillance being used by governments to stifle social movements. Around the world information obtained through surveillance is being used to arrest and torture human rights defenders. Governments have powerful technology at their fingertips which they use to prevent journalists and campaigners from exposing their abuses. Yet the UK is held up as a role model by these same governments to justify introducing more repressive measures. Countries which are viewed as being more extreme or authoritarian can never clean up while we don’t challenge our own practices.

We all have an opportunity to fix this situation and make a stand for digital rights this election.

Help us make the change. Join ORG today!

Right now we need 300 new members so that we can do so much more this election, and we’re nearly half way there. Over 100 people have joined us in the last month. Becoming a member makes a huge difference for us, and it’s a huge success that so many people are standing with us against mass surveillance.