Freedom of speech, that’s one thing, but freedom to privacy, that’s another thing entirely. In an kind of “police state tendency” meets “jingoistic pretense at rights protection,” the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, has come out hard against the UK’s citizenry having any kind of technology that the British government cannot hack. Ironically, he’s using the Paris attacks as an excuse. ArsTechnica reports:
“Are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read?” Cameron said Monday while campaigning, in reference to apps such as WhatsApp, Snapchat, and other encrypted services. “My answer to that question is: ‘No, we must not.'”
He said the Paris attacks, including the one last week on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, underscored the need for greater access.
“The attacks in Paris demonstrated the scale of the threat that we face and the need to have robust powers through our intelligence and security agencies in order to keep our people safe,” Cameron said.
The article goes on to point out that use of encryption software has already resulted in the arrest of several individuals in Spain who used encryption software. A Spanish judge has stated that using extreme measures aka unbreakable encryption software, is evidence you’re a terrorist.
That is, merely trying to keep your email secure is now viewed in Spain as evidence that you are a terrorist.
This flows nicely with the report that a Swedish politician has reported a far right leader for hate speech after the leader made an anti-Islamic comment following the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris last week.
In a Facebook comment to an article on the killings at the French satirical weekly’s office Wednesday, the party secretary of the Sweden Democrats Bjoern Soeder wrote “‘The religion of peace’ shows its face.”
I don’t need to remind anyone that this is the exact type of comment that has been seen in the U.S. on Facebook and even on national television consistently since 2001 and yet, in the U.S., a person is free to say it. Not so in Sweden.
“He has linked practising Muslims to a terrorist act, it’s extremely offensive,” Veronica Palm, from the ruling Social Democratic party told TV4 news.
“This statement is offensive to a group of people and I want to see if it comes under laws against inciting racial hatred,” said Palm.
And, ironically, it’s the far right party defending free speech (for now):
The Sweden Democrats have condemned the Paris massacre in a statement, calling it “an attack on all of Europe and on the values of democracy and freedom of speech.”
In Europe, it may be the case that both freedom to privacy and freedom of speech are only for the dead or for those whose allies hold the majority seats of power, a dynamic that the founding fathers and every freedom fighter in history has warned us against.