The world is changing

It has been a while since my last post in January this year. In the meantime lots of things changed in the online world. The naive part of the population (including me) realized, that the secret services around the world do more sophisticated spying, than opening hand-written letters with steam. A brave young man, Edward Snowden, was willing to give up his normal, comfortable life, to inform the world about the spying program of the NSA and GCHQ. There is a house in Vienna (18., Pötzleinsdorferstrasse 126 – 128) that belongs to the US embassy. There are rumours, that this house is used by the NSA. According to a newspaper, there is a direct connection to the back-bone of Austria’s internet in this house, capable of transmitting up to 70% of Austria’s telecommunication traffic. I assume that my country is not an exception and similar houses exist all over the world.

Since I know about these details, I don’t feel save anymore. It feels like, all my online activities are monitored. The Austrian Computer Association postulate the required actions in an open letter to the government. The cornerstones are:

  • transparency and democratic control of all surveillance activities
  • disclosure of all contracts with the USA and other countries regarding data transmission
  • data protection according to European law (in particular regarding the safe-harbour contracts)
  • definition of human rights for online activities
  • European companies should be founded that provide computer cloud services to break US monopolies
  • Security evaluation of software used in the government
  • Diplomatic steps to stop the spying programs (also economic espionage)
  • Freedom of press (see my last post) in particular for journalists and others reporting about this topic

The president of Brazil made a brave step ahead. I hope others will follow.