Instead of following our previous blog piece reporting on the second day of events at the past attended Logan Symposium: Challenge Power! we have decided to wait and let it all marinate and sink in. We wanted to share with our readers a more in-depth/intimate dialogue, lessons learnt and our personal reflections on how technology and the use of information relates in general to all of us, but also especially to those who are attempting to protect the rights to freedom of thought, expression and liberty; also known as the right to privacy, to guarantee a check and balance brought by individuals who through diverse professional paths come to expose the corruption and abuse by those in power.

How much do we understand or want to understand about the reach of our government’s organized and collective ability to surveil us? Do we really want to explore and learn that our way of life is mostly if not exclusively catered by corporations big and small which are willing to go as far as monitoring our own unpublished posts in order to understand our thinking and interests to once again cater to us products which will make us consuming machines?

The answer to this for the convenience of comfort is NO, ignorance is bliss!

We all vaguely know to what extent surveillance is possible, we have read and watched science fiction novels, series and movies alluding to unlimited technical capacity of state and private surveillance. However, knowing and understanding what this means in our day-to-day experience and lives requires us to admit our vulnerability and ignorance in our interaction with our technical devices and management of our virtual and real lives. Even before Snowden the idea that surveillance was possible and being practiced was known, however it was not until the Snowden documents did we know to what extend and with what ease and with what little oversight this was possible and was already being implemented at length. Even when a fragment of the truth came to light and our governments and its agencies were asked to explain, they lied and sometimes under oath about the blunt violation of our privacy which in the end showed us the lack of accountability they felt. It became public that the operations conducted by NSA or GCHQ went beyond the target of few bad, criminal and terrorist apples and reached to control of everything in past and in real time communication in order to use in the shadows. It has come to light as well that many of our beloved corporations betrayed our trust and were willing to sell our private data to the highest bidders and through government corrosion.

The issue here is twofold: one is the perennial tool used by all those in power_ surveillance_ the need to monitor subjects, citizens, foreigners, consumers, competitors to ensure stability of past, present and future control of power.

The other is targeting and elimination of dissent and truth seekers through discrediting the exposer sought forth by those who understand that those in power; i.e. governments (in all its façades), corporations, monarchies, religious groups are abusing and taking the common folk amuck.

It seems an inexorable reality, both in past and present that authorities in power _ be it the so called democratic or authoritarians_ have been showing relentless defiance to the fundamental and dignified rights of their own citizens by invoking stained national security reverberations as a façade to justify their disgraced politically trembled deeds.  As a recourse to challenge such unrestrained State desire, and vigilant will of investing its economic, technological, and man power in hampering inalienable values of the dignified mankind, Edward Snowden, in his closing speech to the symposium, has reiterated that we, as truth seekers and professional duty bearers, should have an unlimited desideration, passion and commitment to expose these ongoing ferocious secret crimes committed by those in power. We, as human rights activists, whistle blowers, and investigative journalists _ with the help of technological advancements in the protection of data and our sources _ have to lead the campaign against such barbaric and maladroit behaviours of leaderships and pursue the original power back to the people as its inherent holders.

 

Personal reflections:

The Logan ICJ Symposium was a real eye-opener for me. Not only gaining more knowledge about the situation of journalists and activists, being exposed by surveillance and lack of secrecy protection but as well the general situation of data collection with most people not knowing what that means and which rights are at stake, was extremely enriching for both my personal as well as my business life.” 

“The speakers were well chosen and all absolute experts in their fields. Those two days gave me the opportunity to shed a different light on current questions of politics and the global extension and dangers of surveillance. Very helpful was the introduction to several tools to keep data private, such as encryption possibilities and open source software. If we all work together we can keep our privacy, are able to challenge power and will make our life and work safer.”

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