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Mass Surveillance

    If you are on the internet or use a mobile phone, odds are you are being followed by governments through wide sweeping mass surveillance programs.  This isn’t just part of life in the 21st century, it’s illegal and a human rights violation.


    In June 2013, Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents revealing the sweeping surveillance programs run by the NSA, UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and the “Five Eyes” spying and intelligence-sharing agreements between the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. These programs spy on most of the world’s digital communications.

    The Snowden revelations proved beyond a doubt that governments have systematically violated their citizens’ rights to privacy on a global scale, and in turn placed other rights at risk.  Private data can be used to target journalists, persecute activists, profile and disciminate against minorties, and crack down on free speech. The chill effect is all too real: when people know they are being monitored, they may be less willing to communicate freely.

    Increasingly states try to build firewalls around digital communications. Iran, China and Viet Nam have all tried to develop systems that enable them to control access to digital information. In India’s northern Kashmir region, mobile Internet and communications are suspended in response to any unrest. Even Amnesty international continually has to find new ways to stop our website from being blocked in China.

    Governments are also using dangerous and sophisticated technology to read activists and journalists’ private emails and remotely turn on their computer’s camera or microphone to secretly record their activities. In 2014, Amnesty helped launch ‘Detekt’ - a simple tool that allows activists to scan their devices for surveillance spyware.

    Get involved in Amnesty’s work to ban mass surveillance: follow the campaign on Facebook and/or contact Hilary Homes at the national office (


    6 simple tools to protect your online privacy and help you fight back against mass surveillance

    Easy guide to mass surveillance

    8 Facts You Need to Know: Why We’re Suing to Stop Surveillance – and Protect Human Rights

    5 reasons why we should care about mass surveillance

    What's New

    SEPTEMBER 19, 2017: Canada: Amnesty among 40 Signatories to Joint Letter raising serious concerns with C-59 National Security Reform Bill

    JANUARY 17, 2017: EU: Orwellian counter-terrorism laws stripping rights under guise of defending them

    DECEMBER 02, 2016: Ai Weiwei joins call on Obama to pardon Snowden

    OCTOBER 20, 2016: Snapchat, Skype among apps not protecting users’ privacy