human rights news & views

Assange warns of ‘totalitarian’ potential of the internet

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (Getty Images)Surprisingly, perhaps, freedom (of information) fighter Julian Assange thinks the internet is, on balance, bad for human rights.

Speaking to Cambridge University students — presumably by video link, given he is still under house arrest in Norfolk — Assange (pictured) described the internet as the "greatest spying machine the world has ever seen" and an obstacle to freedom of expression.

On the plus-side, reports Indian Express, Assange says the internet gives us an 'unprecedented' ability to know what a 'government is doing', while social networking sites like Facebook can assist the organising of human rights movements, such as we've seen in the Arab world.

Egyptian protester beaten, Kefaya 13 April 2011And yet, "Facebook was used to round up all the principal participants" in Egypt's pro-democracy movement, claims Assange, who "were then beaten, interrogated and incarcerated."

"It is not a technology that favours freedom of speech.  It is not a technology that favours human rights.

[The internet] can be used to set up a totalitarian spying regime, the likes of which we have never seen."

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