A Facebook executive was arrested (and subsequently released) in Brazil for refusing to hand over Whatsapp metadata to authorities. This story highlights how reality sometimes hits you in the face from non-English countries and you missed all the developments leading up to that point. There’s no shortage of news, nuance, and analysis from the UK and US, but how do you track the nuances of developments in non-English countries?
Theresa May. Generals Hayden and Alexander. Home Office. NDAA. Patriot Act. NSA. GCHQ. We hear all of these every so often. What’s the equivalent for these in China and Russia? In Spain? Brazil? India? Even Germany?
How can developments in Brazil that lead up to an executive for a parent company getting arrested — arrested for not complying with an order to invade privacy in a way that wasn’t technically possible… how can such developments happen completely under the radar?
More importantly, what other important developments are taking place now that are being intensely discussed, just out of view for people in the international community used to discussing in English?
There have been a few things that have happened in view. The Spanish Ley Sinde. The German Bundestrojaner. And of course, the Chinese Firewall. But on the whole, there’s a huge white spot on the map as to the development of civil liberties in areas that don’t naturally discuss the developments in English, and where media is either complicit or don’t see it as worth reporting on.
There are two strategies to win civil liberties. Either you create a shining example of liberty for others to follow (through technological or political means), or you try pushing wherever and whenever bad ideas appear so they don’t get to fester. Right now both approaches are failing; bad and dangerous ideas seem to be synonymous with career politicians, and even worse, it mostly happens out of the sunlight of international discussion (and international capacity for action).
How can we fix this?