An email I sent to the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. Quite succint and un-emotive, but that’s the way of The Law, I suppose. There’s something kind of cute and utopian about these ‘International Principles’ and ‘International Charters’, but that’s just cynical ol’ me talking…. Hummmm.
To Whom It May Concern,
As a recipient of the bi-weekly EDRi-gram (Electronic Digital Rights newsletter), I try to keep abreast of developments in the field of digital civil rights, and I recently learned of the 13 Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance. The 13 principles were officially presented in Geneva on the 20th of September, spurred on by revelations (still emerging) about the breadth and depth of mass internet surveillance being carried out by intelligence agencies, often in the name of security or anti-piracy.
Speaking at the launch event, Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that, ‘technological advancements have been powerful tools for democracy by giving access to all to participate in society, but increasing use of data mining by intelligence agencies blurs lines between legitimate surveillance and arbitrary mass surveillance.’
In the words of Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, ‘the right to privacy is often understood as an essential requirement for the realization of the right to freedom of expression. Undue interference with individuals’ privacy can both directly and indirectly limit the free development and exchange of ideas. An infringement upon one right can be both the cause and consequence of an infringement upon the other.’
I notice, however, from the 13 Principles website that the ICCL is not a signatory, and that in fact there is no Irish signatory to this document. In the ICCL’s capacity as both a watchdog for civil liberties, and an educator on these issues, I feel it of the utmost importance that your organisation raise awareness of this issue, and join this international coalition of signatories in calling for an assessment of surveillance practices in a human rights context.
Break, that is. The beat that spawned a thousand (or a million) breaks was played first by Gregory Cylvester Coleman of The Winstons, a drum solo in a B side of theirs called “Amen Brother”, which was itself a re-imagining of Jester Hairston’s gospel classic “Amen”. I was messing with the beat today, that most seminal of the most seminal; it’s so ubiquitous that it felt kind of weird to be working with it.
I went for a nosey online about it; there’s a rich seam to be mined on dinternetz, a testament to its cult status. Obviously a whole raft of “the definitive online amen break archive”, but other stuff as well. Articles and blog posts and the like.
So, this (post) is just some links. No point in doing an Amen break on it.
This audio documentary from 2004 is by Nate Harrison. It’s recorded on a dub-plate, in fact – some snippets of music (too bleedin short though!), interesting observations on the nature of copyright and the rest of…all that kinda stuff. Yaknow. Give er a listen, it’s only twenty minutes long.
This piece from The Huffington Post is more on the copyright tip. I do love me ruminations on copyright! Interesting though; it covers a lot of the points made in Harrison’s documentary, as well as Thomas Edison’s attempt to monopolise the fledgling motion picture industry by waging a war of petty lawsuits. Plus ça change, eh.
For more of a meditative buzz, try knitting an Amen break scarf. Takes all sorts.
I found it on this post. Very interesting blog.
La Quadrature du Net is a fantastic site which “aims to alert on government projects that threaten civil liberties on the Internet and to make alternative proposals”.
ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is one of the most pertinent issues currently, posing as it does such a massive threat to civil liberties. An older post on that here.
The political memory section has names, contact details and the voting records of every MEP, by country and by committee. I might even write to some of them, in my naivety. Like Paul Murphy, a Socialist from Dublin. He’s on the International Trade Committee (INTA), the main one working on ACTA.
Closer to home (as in, at home), the Copyright Review Committee (set up by Minister Richard Bruton) published a consultation paper in March. “Innovation” is the buzz-word here, how can we nurture it, foster it, encourage it, attract it and its innovative practitioners to Ireland. I’m chomping through the 182-page report – the Department (of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation) are accepting submissions from the public, so I might as well.
I’ll do a proper post on it once I’m finished.
Last Friday, the EU countries (with the exception of Germany,The Netherlands, Cyprus and Estonia), signed ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. In the same vein as SOPA and its hangers-on, ACTA is far more scary and far-reaching. Vague and open-ended (of course!), it provides a low threshold for criminal sanctions; ‘to “acts” which are for direct commercial advantage but also for, also undefined, “economic advantage” or “aiding and abetting” (also undefined).’ (http://www.edri.org/edrigram/number10.1/whats-wrong-with-ACTA – Part 2)
It puts the onus on ISPs (internet service providers) to police their customers’ internet usage and offers bland assurances that it’ll protect “fundamental principles such as freedom of expression, fair process, and privacy”. Soooo, not fundamental rights, not a fair trial, not due process.
Ostensibly on grounds of public health, it goes beyond the digital realm as regards intellectual property. This has implications for generic drugs(drugs whose patent has expired, can be sold without a licence from the original company, much cheaper than brand-name drugs), and seeds.
Negotiations have been shrouded in secrecy since they started three years ago.
European Digital Rights have a good summary of ACTA on their site, five one-page documents on different aspects.
And then, what to do? La Quadrature du Net have some suggestions –