Edward Snowden discusses government monitoring of protest movements

Edward Snowden discusses government monitoring of protest movements

Yesterday, Friday, prominent whistleblower Edward Snowden moderated an online conference as part of a fundraising campaign for the „Tor Project“ anonymisation service.

Besides Snowden, three other experts from the fields of data protection and human rights took part in the discussion. The four panelists discussed the worldwide protest movements of the Bitcoin Lifestyle past year, whether in Belarus or the USA.

Alison Macrina, founder of the Library Freedom Project, said: „What we saw in the protests for ‚Black Lives Matter‘ around the world this summer is that police authorities are also monitoring the activities of protesters in the social media.

Accordingly, the protesters would have been more careful about what they share and write:

„One thing that is already widespread in the US is that fewer and fewer protesters share photos or videos showing the faces of others. It’s great that there is an awareness that the people photographed or filmed might otherwise face punishment“.

Berhan Taye, an expert on privacy and Africa, cites the ethnic tensions in northern Ethiopia as an example

„There is an armed conflict in the Tigray region, and then the situation was made worse by the fact that the region was cut off from the Internet less than a month ago“.

As Taye continues, many people in the region have used Sudanese SIM cards to continue communicating with the outside world. When a massacre with 600 dead followed shortly afterwards, the population was killed not only because of their ethnicity, but also because the Sudanese SIM cards were found in their mobile phones.

Snowden concludes by addressing all Western audiences, noting that state surveillance „is not something that is very far away“, although he admits that there are certainly gradations in scale between countries. Nevertheless, he cites as an example that during the BLM protests in Baltimore, planes were sent into the air to collect telephone data of protesters.

„We have a two-tier system where the government can do whatever it wants while the population is oppressed,“ Snowden says.

In the wake of protests around the world, decentralisation has come up for discussion this year. Blockchain technology could play an important role in this respect. In addition, cryptographically encrypted messenger services such as Signal and Telegram are becoming increasingly important for organising protests.