Global Internet Surveillance to Counter Terrorism Jeopardizes Internet Freedom

Posted on Dec 5 2012 - 11:04pm by Sidrah Zaheer

According to a new UN report by UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), cracking down on terrorist networks and organisations will be easier if more ISPs retained data from internet surfers. Since internet is increasing becoming a platform to spread propaganda for these terrorist groups, tracking their online activities can prove helpful in catching them. Terrorist groups are also using internet as a platform to recruit new members and to finance their acts. But in order to trace a terrorist or a group of terrorists, decent and law-abiding netizens will also come under surveillance, which is an invasion of their right to online privacy.

Since the War on Terror, airport security has gone very strict and travelers are forced to face thorough body searches and investigations for their luggage. For reasons of fighting terrorism, civil liberties of the US citizens have also been compromised a lot and it has been a significant issue in the American society. The counterterrorism police will be allowed to use methods to decrypt emails and instant messages on chats which are often protected by encryption systems. The UN report also calls for surveillance of mobile phones which is a further distress for the people.

Internet is essentially a medium that provide users with a space to express their opinions. With many forums debating and discussing world affairs of today, users tend to come forward with all kinds of opinions, some of which might even be extreme. However, these people may not potentially be a real terrorist threat and neither will they be supporting any group with their participation except by sharing their opinions, they can get in trouble with the authorities by being mistakenly linked with a terrorist group.

Such a possibility not only curbs the freedom on the internet, but also mismanages the issue rather than solving the problem of terrorism. The UN’s Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force worked on the report and it is highly likely that governments will incorporate these measures into their counter-terrorism tactics jeopardizing an internet user’s right to freedom of expression and online privacy.

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