Yes – It’s not only the US Government with the NSA, CIA, FBI etc. that is spying on Activists, Journalists and Dissidents – also other ‘mature democracies’ share this approach.
The European Commission is planning to award a public contract for a study on “European Capability for Situational Awareness. SMART 2013/N004″ Ref. Ares(2013)2917786 – 22/08/2013
In times of social and political unrest, governments of mature and nascent democracies are
increasingly tempted to reduce freedom of speech and unrestricted access to information,
both offline and online.
It is undoubted that Internet and more broadly Information and Communication
Technologies (ICT´s) can be conducive to a more effective protection and exercise of
human rights across borders, facilitating freedom of expression and serving as a catalyst
for social change, cultural diversity, political expression and democratic prosperity.
However, the opportunities for pluralism and diversity brought about by these
technological developments are not risk-free. At the same time that the Internet has opened
up a platform for journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders, political activists and
citizens to make their voices heard, it has also allowed the use of sophisticated censorship
and surveillance methods by non-democratic regimes to silent political criticism.
It is in that scenario that ICTs are an essential contributing factor for the creation of
positive dynamics among citizens, freedom and democracy, as well as an unprecedented
enabler of dialogue: a key element in society that requires ensuring that all parties can
communicate, access and exchange information without restrictions, gateways or filters,
and with appropriate privacy and security protections.
DG CONNECT, in close cooperation with other services (DG Development and
Cooperation; DG Enterprise) and the European External Action Service (EEAS), has put in
place the No-Disconnect Strategy. The goal of this policy toolkit is to provide on-going
support to counter-censorship initiatives to facilitate the role of activists, political
dissidents, bloggers, journalists and citizens living and/or operating in high-risk
environments, making operational its commitment to uphold human rights and
fundamental freedoms online. This way, the No-Disconnect Strategy embraces the wider
EU strategy for Human Rights. (http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/131181.pdf)
The No-Disconnect Strategy is part of the integrated response of the European Union to the
events that unfolded in the Middle East and North African region during the Arab Spring to
support and advance human rights and democracy in the region, as envisaged in the Joint
Communication of the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign
Affairs and Security Policy “A Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with
the Southern Mediterranean” (COM(2011) 200) (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2011:0200:FIN:EN:PDF)
Currently, the geographical scope of the Strategy is not limited to the aforementioned
region, but operates at global scale given the fact that the implementation of the No-
Disconnect Strategy is achieved in cooperation with other Services and through EU
global instruments such as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human
Rights (http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/how/finance/eidhr_en.htm) led by DG Development and Cooperation; and the EU Strategic Framework on
Human Rights and Democracy, led by the European External Action Service. (http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/131181.pdf)