Digital Civil Rights in Europe

Article published in EDRi-gram 7.18 (available also in German)

On Saturday, 12 September 2009, civil liberties activists in many countries again took it to the streets under the motto “Freedom not Fear – Stop the Surveillance Mania”. It was the second time these activities took place after the first international action day on 11 October 2008.

The biggest event was held in Berlin, where more than 25 000 people marched through the streets and applauded the speeches and the bands. Frank Bsirske, chairman of the world’s largest trade union ver.di, called for a comprehensive law for employee and workplace privacy protection. Patrick Breyer from the working Group against Data Retention (AK Vorrat), which again had initiated the protests, reminded participants of the democratic rallies and events of 1847 and 1989 and called for continuous resistance against the surveillance state. Other speakers included Franziska Heine from the Working Group against Censorship (AK Zensur), who had organized the most successful online petition ever to the German parliament against a recent German law that permits blocking of web sites by the federal police. The event sent a strong signal to the political parties and was widely reported in the context of the upcoming German federal election. At the end of the demonstration, activists from EDRi member Chaos Computer Club were able to film a police assault on a peaceful participant. Public pressure as a result of this has now led to an announcement of the Berlin police that all officers will get mandatory name badges in early 2010.

Other activities took place in Bulgaria, Finland, Italy, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom. Activists had organized a plethora of events, including a full week of activities in Prague; demonstrations in Amsterdam, Stockholm and Sofia; public teach-inns in Skopje (co-organized by EDRi member Metamorphosis), Milano, and Helsinki (co-organized by EDRi member EFFi); privacy parties and film screenings, and much more. Activists in Vienna (from EDRi member reported such big interest from the population that they had to print 1000 more leaflets on the same day. Outside of Europe, privacy activists in Guatemala joined the action day this year with a reading event from a new volume of fiction stories about surveillance, titled “stop the surveillance mania”.

Overview of Freedom not Fear activities

Press center for the Berlin demonstration

Report from activities in Skopje – EDRi-gram: Macedonia: Activities for citizen education about their privacy rights (23.09.2009)…

Report from activities in Vienna (only in German, 12.09.2009)…

International Action Day “Freedom not Fear” (11.10.2008)…

(contribution by Ralf Bendrath, EDRi member Netzwerk Neue Medien)

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