Increased social media surveillance could pose a threat to protest movements.
Yesterday, Friday, the prominent whistleblower Edward Snowden moderated an online conference as part of a fundraising campaign for the “Tor Project” anonymization service
In addition to Snowden, three other experts from the fields of data protection and human rights took part in the conversation. The four participants discussed the worldwide protest movements in the past year, whether in Belarus or the USA.
Alison Macrina, the founder of the Library Freedom project, said: “What we saw in the protests for ‚Black Lives Matter‘ around the world this summer is that the police are also watching the protesters‘ activities on social media monitor.“
Accordingly, the protesters would have been more careful about what they share and write:
“One thing that is already very common in the US is that fewer and fewer protesters are sharing photos or videos showing other people’s faces. It’s great that there is an awareness that the people who are photographed or filmed could otherwise face fines. “
Berhan Taye, an expert on data protection and Africa, cites the ethnic tensions in northern Ethiopia as an example. „There is an armed conflict in the Tigray region, and then things got worse when the region was cut off from the Internet less than a month ago“.
As Taye goes on to explain, many residents of the region subsequently used Sudanese SIM cards in order to be able to continue to communicate with the outside world. When a massacre with 600 dead followed shortly afterwards, the population was not only killed because of their ethnicity, but also because the Sudanese SIM cards were found in their cell phones.
Snowden concludes with all Western viewers by noting that state surveillance „is not something that is very far away,“ although he admits that there are gradations in scope between countries. Nonetheless, he cites as an example that during the BLM protests in Baltimore, planes were blown up to collect the protesters‘ phone data.
„We have a two-tier system where the government can do what it wants while the people are oppressed,“ said Snowden.
In the course of the worldwide protests, decentralization was discussed this year . Blockchain technology could play an important role in this regard. In addition, cryptographically encrypted messenger services such as Signal and Telegram are becoming increasingly important for organizing protests.