Let us begin this post with the Day of Affirmation Address which was delivered on June 6, 1966, Senator Robert F. Kennedy said,
The first element of this individual liberty [the name of freedom] is the freedom of speech. The right to express and communicate ideas…Hand in hand with freedom of speech goes the power to be heard -to share in the decisions of government which shape men’s lives. Everything that makes life worthwhile—family, work, education, a place to rear one’s children and a place to rest one’s head—all this rests on decisions of government; all can be swept away by a government which does not heed the demands of its people (http://research.archives.gov/description/194041).
Do you believe that your internet use should be considered a Human Right?
Well, it seems that the Committee of Ministers of the 47 member of States of the Council of Europe set a precedent on April 16, 2014 when Recommendation CM/Rec (2014)6 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on a Guide to human rights for Internet users was adopted by the Committee of Ministers at the 1197th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies. This Committee of Ministers believes that there should a guide, of sorts, which the internet user could use to learn about his/her human rights while online as well as the limitations and the remedies for said limitations. They also believe that human rights and fundamental freedom apply to online as well as offline usage.
This document is really quite interesting and if you click on the link provided below it will show you all of the details regarding: Access and Non-discrimination. Freedom of Expression and Information, Assembly, Association and Participation, Privacy and Data Protection, Education and Literacy, Children and Young People, and Effective Remedies (http://www.coe.int/web/internet-users-rights/guide;jsessionid=7422E8871EF6692B7AEB0B8AFC29997E).
The Privacy and Data Protection section says that it is only if you have broken the law and/or given permission for your personal data to be searched that your personal data can be collected. It also states that you would have to be informed about the content of the personal data collected and which third party it was distributed to, and for what purpose. Which means that for the most part every person would have the ability to control your own personal data (http://www.coe.int/web/internet-users-rights/privacy-and-data-protection),
In the United States, it appears that a person’s human rights, fundamental freedoms, and Constitutional Rights are being compromised due to the government’s handling of security and/or terrorism concerns.
Edward Snowden, a former employee with the CIA, broke the Freedom of Speech and Privacy issue wide open when he went public with numerous classified documents which uncovered the fact that there are numerous global surveillance programs along with various other surveillance technologies in place to gather information for its enemies and the American people. There have been many debates since 2013 regarding mass surveillance, drone usage, and government secrecy.
He lived a pretty comfortable lifestyle because of his almost $200,000 salary which allowed his girlfriend and himself to share a home in Hawaii but he also had a career and a family. He stated, I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom, and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance).”
The US government and the National Security Agency (NSA) have come under tremendous fire after Snowden’s story broke. You will have to be the judge on whether you believe everything that Snowden has divulged to the world. I have found that I am a lot more cautious about how I handle my affairs on the internet.
It is interesting to see how far the European countries are willing to go to prove to their citizens that they believe in their human rights and their right to privacy when the US government is struggling to convince the American public that what they are being told by Snowden is a huge pile of hooey.
I believe that no matter what the outcome of this situation I will never look at my use of technology and the internet through the same innocent eyes again. Food for thought.. Are Americans losing our Freedom of Speech and Privacy on the Internet?