You Privacy is Your Right Not A Privilege

How I wish I got a penny for each time I heard the argument “.. but you see we don’t deserve freedom of speech because we are an intolerant lot.. what privacy, when you’ve to protect national security..”.

Despite revelations that the United State’s National Security Agency (NSA) has been involved in massive surveillance of citizens globally; there’s been very little outrage from citizens at large.

As someone passionate about the right to privacy, it has become increasingly difficult for my colleagues and I to even speak about privacy as a fundamental right without being shrugged off “Let’s just live with it”. This is what I loved about Vickram Crishna — a Mumbai-based engineer and communicator, who works actively at the intersection of education and technology, focusing on appropriate solutions for persons with disabilities –the ability and dedication with which he drives the point home “Don’t let governments, corporates or individuals talk you down, your privacy is your dignity..”. It reflects on the mainstream discourse on privacy, the notion that people do not care about their privacy and therefore there is no need to create policies or products that keep privacy protection as the baseline.

Vickram 1

Freedom of speech and expression is listed as a fundamental right in our constitution, so is the right to privacy, yet we hear about them in closed selective discussions via human rights groups. So lets make it easier for everyone to understand what is your freedom of speech and expression and privacy, why is it such a fundamental right?   How does intrusion on privacy impact people’s freedom of speech and in turn their course of work. Taking this thought further, we decided to host a privacy 101 hackathon at the Bolo Bhi office in collaboration with Pakistan Software Houses Association , P@SHA.

Seven Lies About Privacy

The hackathon invited citizens, law students, techies, designers, entrepreneurs, mappers and civil rights activists to come together and find solutions including but not limited to technology. To make freedom of speech and expression mainstream, and make privacy default.

Vickram began by identifying three major risks to privacy,  pseudo-nationalism , pseudo-security  and pseudo business growth. That one’s privacy is secondary to national security, nationalism and business growth, the portrayal that being privacy conscious is too inconvenient. The focused group interactive discussion was concluded by each member sharing ideas and pledges to help make privacy mainstream by default.

About The Author

Sana Saleem

Sana Saleem is an activist working on minority rights and internet freedom. Sana was listed in Foreign Policy's 100 Global Thinker's list in 2012, for her work on free speech in Pakistan with Bolo Bhi. She serves on the advisory board of Courage Foundation, which is Edward Snowden's Legal Defense Fund. She blogs at Global Voices, Asian Correspondent, The Guardian, Dawn and her personal blog Mystified Justice. She also won Best Activist Blogger award by CIO & Google at the Pakistan Blogger Awards in the same year. In 2014, she was listed on BBC's 100 Women list. She can be found Twitter: @sanasaleem and contacted via email:

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