@ mark simmons photography
Cyber Security (and human rights)
The Government, in wanting blanket coverage for all with no not-spots using wireless, is in danger of violating our fundamental human rights. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that we have the right to live in ‘freedom and safety’; a right that was incorporated into UK law in the 1998 Human Rights Act.
But we will have no opt out, no escape from wireless. As long ago as 1859, John Stuart Mill wrote
“the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others” [John Stuart Mill On Liberty].
Under the terms of the revised Electronic Communications Code, overseen by Ofcom, any landowner who objects to digital infrastructure being installed on their land can be prosecuted by telecom operators. Operators are also entitled to compensation if a local authority obstruct installations.
Telecoms are being given the same status as other utilities – gas, water, electric – and can now install their equipment wherever without the need for planning permission. Planning permission is only required in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. This requirement has not, however, stopped masts from appearing in Exmoor National Park or Dartmoor, for example.
Agricultural valuers are now warning their clients who are forced to have masts on their land that they could find themselves in a difficult situation. Landowners could discover that they are liable for any electromagnetic radiation harm that could come from phone masts because they have a duty of care to provide a safe working space for employees. Mast operators are obliged to map exclusion zones around masts for the safety of workers and the public, but they are not obliged to give details of the zones to those they affect. And, because operators don’t have to disclose the exclusion boundaries, neither landowners nor planning authorities are able to assess the effect of masts on buildings, land or other activities. Landowners thus potentially carry all the liability of hosting a mast without any means of mitigating the risks.
The decision to expose everyone to untested radiofrequency radiation without consent means that we are in effect participating in a large-scale experiment without even realising it [see Kostoff 2020 monograph, ‘The largest unethical experiment in human history’]. Residents now living in cities with live trials of 5G have not been asked to give their permssion. In 1947 Western Governments signed the Nuremberg Code to prevent such experiments from ever happening again.
This is a link to a 2014 presentation to European Convention on Human Rights about how the imposition of electro-magnetism on us without our consent violates our human rights. And that those who suffer from electro-sensitivity are being denied fundamental freedoms because it can become too painful for them to fully participate in society. How can they even be certain of accessing medical treatment if the Health Service relies so heavily on wifi? Electro-sensitives can become unwilling refugees in modern society in order to try and escape exposure.
We also have no democratic local control over what the infrastructure can be used for. We will not be informed of any plan to increase surveillance, the use of facial recognition or other technologies now being developed. Where are the checks and balances that ensure we will continue to live in a free and democratic society? How might we be able to resist a slide into tyranny, even here in the UK?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is aware of the dangers. In his speech to the UN in September 2019 he said:
“You may keep secrets from your friends, from your parents, your children, your doctor – even your personal trainer – but it takes real effort to conceal your thoughts from Google. And if that is true today, in future there may be nowhere to hide… This technology could [..] be used to keep every citizen under round-the-clock surveillance. A future Alexa will pretend to take orders. But this Alexa will be watching you… And every day that we tap on our phones or work on our ipads [..] we not only leave our indelible spoor in the ether but we are ourselves becoming a resource; click by click, tap by tap…”
Boris pointed out that “data is the crude oil of the modern economy. And we are now in an environment where we don’t know who should own these new oil fields. We don’t always know who should have the rights or the title to these gushers of cash and we don’t know who decides how to use that data”.
He also knows how human rights abuses are already happening. He continued, “the same programmes, platforms, could also be designed for real-time censorship of every conversation, with offending words automatically deleted, indeed in some countries this happens today. Digital authoritarianism is not, alas, the stuff of dystopian fantasy but of an emerging reality.” (PM Boris Johnson UN speech).
Lawsuits are currently being filed against the tech giants for their complicity in human rights abuses which go beyond mere censorship (link). Whole societies are being controlled using digital means, with basic human rights denied to those who fall foul.
And yet, the UK Government has so far failed to act. In spite of knowing that data transmitted over wireless can be more easily hacked, the Government gives no reassurances for protecting our privacy. Instead we are left vulnerable to the predations of tech giants who have the means to manipulate our very thought processes and personal decisions, according to their own agendas. What starts with mere suggestions for holiday destinations based on overheard conversations picked up by our devices, risks ending in a scary Orwellian future.
Here is a link to an interview in December 2019 with Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff (Prof Zuboff interview) who has written extensively on the dangers of surveillance capitalism, mostly recently in her book, ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’. Author Robert Epstein is Senior Research Psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in Vista, California and the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today magazine. He has some suggestions for how to increase your on-line privacy – link. And this BBC article gives information about alternative social media and search platforms.
Some of these scenarios could be avoided with a full fibre rollout. It is wireless that gives even greater, unacceptable power to unseen corporations who do not necessarily have our best interests.