Anyone familiar with the dystopian novel “1984” might some similarities between “Big Brother” that kept a watchful eye on citizens and the capabilities of modern governments to track almost anything we do online.
While there are certainly arguments for allowing authorities to root out abuse, exploitation, and other types of internet crimes, a growing number of critics around the world are pushing back against the intrusion into their privacy.
A wide-ranging impact
Efforts to enhance online privacy have already taken root to some extent in the United States, but even more robust efforts are underway across the European Union, where the Parliament is considering new surveillance powers as part of a bid to “prevent and combat child sexual abuse.”
While the ostensible goal of the regulation is to protect kids, the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists warns that spying on young people can be detrimental.
A survey of more than 8,000 young people between 13 and 17 exposes how unpopular such efforts are to people in this age group. The poll, which was commissioned by a group called European Digital Rights and the European Parliament’s Pirate Party members, determined:
- 80% say they’d be uncomfortable engaging in political activity or investigating their own sexuality.
- Two in three don’t want internet providers to be able to monitor their online communications.
- Just 2% believe that spying on all digital communications is the best way to keep citizens safe.
“Stop Scanning Me”
The backlash to these government snooping programs has resulted in a number of organized movements — including the “Stop Scanning Me” campaign formed last year.
Dozens of advocacy groups joined forces to demand that the EU pull out of the so-called CSA Regulation. Since then, the movement’s petition has attracted signatures from thousands of European citizens and at least 125 separate organizations.