Sign up for PM Award Updates!

Rise Of The Surveillance State From Kiev To Washington

January 28, 2014
Clashes in Kiev last week  (Pic courtesy

If this blog posted yesterday the confident prediction by Turkish author and playwright Meltem Arikan that the world turning digital from analogue would lead to the downfall of patriarchy, political oppression and police violence, think again! Not that Arikan, activist and survivor of police brutality at Gezi Park did not envisage pitfalls on the road to that ideal, but there was certainly a note of optimism in her tone.

 But the Ukrainian government’s sophisticated use of surveillance technology to track down protestors in Kiev appears quite unlike the fumbling efforts of the Erdogan government last year in Istanbul. President Yanukovych’s regime’s monitoring of electronic devices of Euromaidan dissidents was so systematic that “Many people in Kiev awoke Tuesday (January 21) morning to a frightening text message on their phones. ‘Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.'”
The rise of the ‘surveillance state’ from Washington to Kiev is described by Timothy Karr in an article for the Free Press as an “information counterrevolution.” A ‘surveillance state’ is collaboration between tech companies and governments that use data in their possession to control citizens by spying on them. But that is not all: companies too control the public by limiting and/or denying their access to information – and thereby overturning the concept of net neutrality – which was recently demonstrated in the verdict in Verizon vs. FCC.
“In 2014, we’re experiencing a new age of ‘strategic data,’ says Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, which earlier this month released its annual list of the top political risks worldwide,” writes Karr.
“‘It’s about states using data to engage in surveillance on their populations domestically and internationally.’ It’s top-down, and it’s not only about official use of personal data to protect national security. Governments and corporations are mining our data for more benign practices, too, like predicting traffic patterns or monitoring the spread of diseases,” Karr explains.
You can read the article here
Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.