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Thu Jun 27, 2013, 03:43 PM

The Errors of Edward Snowden and His Global Hypocrisy Tour [View all]

The Errors of Edward Snowden and His Global Hypocrisy Tour

By Kurt Eichenwald

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The irony of someone purportedly dedicated to privacy and human rights aiding the Chinese government grew even starker while Snowden was in Hong Kong. Last week, Human Rights Watch issued a report condemning a massive surveillance campaign undertaken by the Chinese government in Tibetan villages, which results in political re-education of those who may question the Communist regime and the establishment of partisan security units. “These tactics discriminate against those perceived as potentially disloyal, and restrict their freedom of religion and opinion,” Human Rights Watch wrote.

But hey, that’s just real life, not the Internet privacy that concerns Snowden. And, of course, the level of the Chinese government’s surveillance and control of their citizens’ use of the Internet is almost an art form. Just six months ago, China’s legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, adopted the “Decision to Strengthen the Protection of Online Information.” The new rules, which Human Rights Watch says “threaten security and privacy of internet users,” require telecommunications providers to collect reams of personal information about customers who sign up for Internet, landline, or cell-phone service. The law also requires for the providers to insure they have the ability to immediately identify the real names of people who post comments under pseudonyms. Guess why? “In the days following the decision,’’ Human Rights Watch reported, “several well-known online activists found that their weibo micro-blogging accounts had been shut down.’’

As for Russia, the crackdown on public activism has intensified in recent months, which, again, has led to Human Rights Watch issuing a report just a few weeks before Snowden landed in Moscow. “The crackdown is threatening civil society,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The EU has spoken out strongly in recent months, but now is the time to directly call on Russia’s leadership to revise restrictive laws and stop the harassment of independent groups.” Primarily, the Russians are going after hundreds of rights groups and related activist organizations as part of a massive campaign to force them to register as foreign agents. “The authorities are seeking to define ‘political’ so broadly as to make any involvement in public life that is not controlled by the government off-limits,” Williamson said. “They are also trying to tarnish groups with the ‘foreign agents’ label, which in Russia can only mean ‘spy.’”


And what about Ecuador? Why, just two weeks ago, this country that is apparently on Snowden’s list of possible future homes passed new rules that impede free expression. The statute, called the Communications Law, prohibits anyone from disseminating information through the media that might undermine the prestige or credibility of a person or institution (you know, like revealing a government-sponsored surveillance program). The law also places burdens on journalists, making them subject to civil or criminal penalties for publishing information that serves to undermine the security of the state (you know, like revealing a government-sponsored surveillance program).

- more -

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/eichenwald/2013/06/errors-edward-snowden-global-hypocrisy-tour

Some links from the piece:

http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/06/18/china-benefit-masses-campaign-surveilling-tibetans
http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/01/04/china-renewed-restrictions-send-online-chill
http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/06/03/russiaeu-focus-rights-summit
http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/06/17/ecuador-end-assault-free-speech


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