October 8, 2008 | By Danny O'Brien

Freedom Not Fear 2008

Freedom Not Fear is the world's ongoing demonstration against the encroachment of civil liberties by anti-terrorist laws -- particularly in the online world. This year the protests take place this Saturday, October 11th in nearly thirty countries, including the very first events in the Americas.

The origin of the campaign comes from Europeans' anger at the EU's 2006 data retention directive, a pan-European law that requires ISPs to log email and web traffic data for a minimum of six months, and often more. Terabytes of personal data on millions of innocent Europeans are now being collated, paid for by customers and taxpayers, and open for access by any criminal or civil investigation, no matter how trivial.

Freedom Not Fear has since evolved into a more general warning: showing how fundamental freedoms like privacy, freedom of expression, and democratic participation lose when reactionary surveillance systems penetrate our open networks, justified by a hyperbolic rhetoric of fear.

The range of groups and countries that have joined Freedom Not Fear has shown that just how wide the offensive front against your privacy has become, and how many are keen to join the defence. This Sunday, Freedom Not Fear events will take place in 22 European cities, as well as (thanks to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, IP Justice, EFF and others), in Washington, D.C. In South America, protests are planned in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Manta in Ecuador, and other countries are preparing to join.

For those countries without substantial privacy legislation, this year's Freedom Not Fear demonstrations are calling for the adoption of Data Protection laws in their countries. Strong privacy laws should finally affirm freedoms guaranteed by the fundamental rights of privacy in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in many other international and regional human rights treaties.

If you'd like to join the demonstrations in your own country, reach out to your national contact listed here, and add the banner to your own web page.

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