Internet Surveillance Concerns that Got Raised by Charlie Hebdo Attacks

There are growing concerns as to how Charlie Hebdo attacks in France are going to affect Internet surveillance in the country and the world. Rumors dictate that stricter legislation is bound to apply against terrorism.

The wound has not yet healed after the recent tragedy at Charlie Hebdo magazine, with the word about terrorism spreading. There is an alarmingly increasing fear that the incident with the shootings in France is not the end at this war against freedom of speech. However, there is another issue at stake; freedom of speech is not only jeopardized by those who react violently and try to erase any opinion not matching their own beliefs. On the contrary, there is another imminent danger that we should be aware of and this is the danger of lack of Internet freedom.

Some days ago, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated that his country is at war against extremism and terrorism: “It is a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity.” In the light of these exceptional events, there is the need for exceptional measures, according to Valls.

Such exceptional measures though would mean that Internet surveillance would strengthen and become justified. However, the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the message that the people working there tried to convey to others was exactly the opposite. “Je Suis Charlie” is the motto used at the publication following the attack and it is worth taking the time and thinking about its deeper meaning.

Up to now, there is no actual suggestion as to how the Internet surveillance is going to be applied to France and its network. Still, if you consider what occurred right after the tragedy of 11th September 2001 and the airplane crashes, you can see where this is all going.

Clémence Bectarte, who is a lawyer at the International Federation for Human Rights in Paris, recommends leaving emotion out of the picture and not trying to decide based on an impulse on this matter: “Our main concern is that the French government gives the time to reflect, to think about what happened, to think about it in an intelligent manner, and to draw conclusions that will be the result of a process. Not to react upon emotion.”

Another detail that ought to be highlighted about France is that a few months ago (on November, to be exact) it passed a law that, among other restrictions such as travel bans, blocks websites that are thought to act in compliance with terrorism. In a country where the problem of jihadists is dense there is a clear dilemma as to how things should be and how the people in France and the world will be kept safe in the future.

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