The World Speaks Against Mass Internet Surveillance

Amnesty International has published the results of a large-scale survey which began a worldwide campaign against surveillance #UnfollowMe.

According to the organization’s official website, the poll, which questioned 15,000 people from 13 countries across every continent, found that 71% of respondents were strongly opposed to the United States monitoring their internet use. 

 “The United States should see this poll as a warning that surveillance is damaging its credibility. President Obama should heed the voice of people around the world and stop using the internet as a tool for collecting mass data about peoples’ private lives,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

The human rights advocate added that “today there is little or no legislation in any country that really protects our human right to privacy against indiscriminate mass surveillance. Indeed, more countries are actually considering laws granting wider surveillance powers, at the expense of people’s rights.”

Strongest opposition to the US intercepting, storing and analysing internet use came from Brazil (80% against) and Germany (81%). Most opposed to mass surveillance by their own government are again people in Brazil (65%) and Germany (69%). 

People also think tech companies – like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo – have a duty to help them secure their personal information from governments (60%) as opposed to those who agree with firms providing authorities access to data (26%). 

Attitudes to surveillance are significantly different when it comes to foreigners living in host nations. Across the 13 countries, slightly more people (45% on average) approve of their governments monitoring foreigners’ phone and internet use in their country, compared to 40% against.

France and Britain top the table of countries in favour of monitoring foreigners in their country, with twice as many people approving (54% and 55% respectively) than opposed it (27% and 26%).

Likewise, half of US citizens felt their government should monitor internet and phone use of foreigners within the US, with only 30% opposing it.

 “The fact that people are more willing to accept their government following foreigners than themselves may illustrate the climate of fear stirred up to justify surveillance. Governments must tackle xenophobia and admit sacrificing human rights will not bring greater security,” said Salil Shetty.

Amnesty International is already taking legal action against the US and UK governments in a bid to curb indiscriminate mass surveillance. Today it launches its new #UnfollowMe campaign calling on governments to create oversight and transparency around mass surveillance.

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