Earlier in May, we collaborated with SAFENET to host an event in Jakarta, Indonesia, for members of the public to discuss the topic of digital rights and the issues surrounding it, along with a screening of Citizen Four.
Those present agreed that state sponsored surveillance, where a government with unlimited resources is specifically spying on your activities, is the worst scenario someone can find themselves in. However, we weren’t only looking at high profile cases, but also at privacy awareness at wider, subtler, and even cultural levels.
We discussed privacy as having quite a different meaning in the Asian cultural context, and the boundaries and parameters to specify what kinds of activities can or can’t be considered as trespassing rights or privacy. For example, how many people in the region are often very welcoming, opening their doors and inviting strangers into their homes, or when meeting someone new on public transportation, asking many questions on matters that would be considered private to a person from the West. This may relate to how “open” they are on social media platforms such as Facebook.
That dialogue was followed by the screening of Citizen Four. The film featured Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) employee who became a whistleblower on the dubious activities of the organisation, such as its mass appropriation of public data for its own political agenda. The discussion held after the screening touched on some critical points such as exactly who is spying on us, the rights of the public, and also how best we can defend ourselves against invasions of privacy.
It was a very fruitful event, but everyone agreed that it wouldn’t be our last meeting, as there are still many related issues that need to be explored and work that needs to be done to spread awareness on them. And one of the events we’re looking forward in that regard is 1st Global Feminist Hackathon, which we’ll be participating in on 23 May!