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Last week on the internet: Snowden on escaping US, TPB will come back, Oscar movies leaked, “Richard Dawkins of tech”.

Is there a promised land of tech or is it what we make of it? And is it in our values to give up human rights for the all too happy and (in)secure tech heaven, to which big tech companies and some governments try to convert us? These are some questions that “Richard Dawkins of tech”, Aral Balkan from Ind.ie, tries to address in his presentation at Big Brother Awards.

“Terrorism!”

An idea overused both discursively and strategically by governments all over the world in our recent history, went pop since Madonna described the leak of her new album as ‘artistic rape and terrorism’. In order to push further the inflation of this idea, with the hope for its replacement with a new term, properly used this time, let’s look at some of the “tech terrorists”.

Under the holy umbrella of tech development, where regulations and human rights have little to say, Facebook may be better at knowing its users’ personalities than their closest friends or even themselves, a new study finds.

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Surveillance video cameras, Gdynia – Paweł Zdziarski // CC-BY-SA

Another tech “terrorist” group could be represented by several of European Union’s ministers who, in the name of Internet freedom, ironically propose more censorship and surveillance. EU’s tendency towards tech “terrorism” is strongly shared by David Cameron, whose new proposal for imposing software back-doors, crackdown on encryption and other measures is very similar to systems already used in Syria, Russia and Iran.

While in EU and UK our elected officials plan to “terrorize” us even more in the name of fighting terrorism, The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) releases a new paper recommending that policy-makers promote “privacy friendly” services.

Meanwhile, in the US…

In US, “tech terrorism” is at its highest due to the magnitude and happy marriage of technological capabilities and propaganda on fighting terrorism for freedom and democracy. Beyond NSA, FBI is going for a larger surveillance role, a new report shows. White House is not only enhancing tech “terrorism”, but it is also protecting it from the few laws that could make some kind of justice in this weird path the West took (White House: CIA Shouldn’t Be Punished for “Inappropriate” Access of Senate Computers). Examples: the “I’m sorry we were caught” scenario, in which retired NSA official says that supporting the back-door algorithm is regrettable; and how the Department of Homeland Security

[pull_quote_center]spent $50 billion over the past eleven years on counter-terrorism programs, including homeland security grants and other anti-terror initiatives, but [it] cannot demonstrate if the nation is more secure as a result.[/pull_quote_center]

Moreover, the same “tech terrorists” who are saying that we have to give up our human rights for the holiness of tech development and freedom of tech use, keep secret reports on how government and private computers are left vulnerable to online attacks because encryption technologies are not being implemented fast enough.

On surveillance

In Spain, those using encryption in their online interactions are by default suspected criminals.

However, in Switzerland, the government was forced to reveal destinations and cost of surveillance exports. This is considered by some a “breakthrough” (which in a sad way it is), but the transparency and accountability of the public institutions should be the standard and people should never be happy with less.

The following animation, “We love surveillance”, will better summarize and contextualize the tech “terrorism” environment:  

Moving on, Snowden in an exclusive interview for DR is presenting the fascinating story of how he escaped spending the rest of his life in a US prison.

In the quest for privacy, hard to use encryption tools are being transformed into user friendly apps, like the Free Encryption App that wants to replace Gmail, Dropbox, and HipChat.

On Copyright and Net Neutrality things are heating up: Republicans Suddenly Love Net Neutrality, CISPA is back  and the TTIP trade deal will throw equality before the law. Furthermore, The Pirate Bay will come back, as a reddit user deciphers the secret code found on the torrent site. And in preparation for the Oscars, 95% of the contenders are already leaked on pirate sites.

Exorcism at Facebook, where AI tools are open-sourced.

Tech “terrorists” are here and are fighting “terrorism”. Until next week, we’ll leave with an interesting view on Democracy in the digital era from Iceland’s Birgitta Jónsdóttir.

Featured image based on: Sinners will be towed – Bryan Clark //
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0