Privacy is a fundamental right, not an anomaly

Version en anglais de mon billet La vie privée est un droit fondamental, pas une anomalie, 11 février 2014
English version of my article La vie privée est un droit fondamental, pas une anomalie, february 11th, 2014

On the occasion of the event The Day We Fight Back (a day of actions against mass surveillance), organized by many NGO which defend privacy and actors of the Internet, I’m reacting about a talk of Vint cerf, a very important member of Google, and recognized as one of the father of the net. For him: ‘privacy may be an anomaly’.

Logo de The Day We Fight Back

Day of actions against mass surveillance (The Day We Fight Back, CC-BY-SA 4.0)

Fundamental rights against private benefits

Principle of a fundamental human right is that everybody mustn’t skirt or crush it, whatever the reason. This is the theory, but reality shows these rights are often crushed by practises which are often at the limit of the legality. A fundamental right as that to have a privacy, that is do something which nobody can know, is very inconveniant for many institutions or compagnies. They skirt it by using many ways: a state can proclame an act to reduce the privacy, refer to security of the country or similar; compagnies which possess web sites can proceed with a big opacity when an internaut is connecting… In all cases, a practise is still used: missing of transparency and therefore of democracy.

Passive citizens

In democracy, people is ruler and institutions and organizations which serve citizens must act with a total transparency, whatever the kind of their actions. However, in many democratic country, many citizens are passive about matters related to the Internet and the privacy. That’s the paradox of our society which is hyper-connected, but its members are diconnected. They don’t worry about their freedom and their rights on the net. Thus, institutions and compagnies allow themselves to act as they want, because it is any great claim from citizens to want the respect of their rights. A society which don’t worry about the respect of its freedom and its rights will lose them; the past abound of many examples of this, and the present to.

World will become that announced by Google ?

Google is accustomed to play the worrying oracle about future of the privacy and of the Internet. However, this web compagny is not the only which express this idea, many compagnies, politicians or members of intelligence agencies say the same. What is the goal of this speech ? To scare us ? To justify immoral practices ? In fact, they say that states and compagnies do this, because it is not a bad thing, they are just following a new movement which is inevitable. This will crush the privacy, which they consider as an anomaly. Furthermore, they say if citizens have nothing to have, they wouldn’t fear from Big Brother.

We can consider this speech as a warning or an incitement of action to defend ourself. They say to us: ‘you complain that we are violating your rights, but you don’t defend them, so you must act if you don’t want lose them in a near future’. Indeed, a such apocalyptic speech about privacy couldn’t have the sense that the lose of the privacy is a destiny. We must say to ourself that we have the power to change this situation and it is our role to act. Many organizations are defending human fundamental rights, and they need to be supported by a maximum of citizens to achieve this.


We must save Wikinews

Note : il s’agit d’une traduction en anglais de mon billet du 3 avril 2013 ; je remercie mon collègue wikinewsien Gfsas pour avoir effectué ce travail.
Note : this is a translation in english of my post published the April, 3rd 2013 ; I thank my wikinewsian colleague Gfsas for have did this work.

Since March 29, a German Wikipedian request the outright closure of all the language versions of . The reason? According to him, the communities are not active enough, the content is not up and productivity is low. The solution proposed by this contributor would be to transfer the contents of Wikipedia on Wikinews, a mistake which, if committed, would definitely lose for Wikipedia its status of encyclopedia.

What is Wikinews ?

Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation, launched in 2004 – 2005 whose purpose is provides current news free. Contrary to what some want to believe, this project does not overlap with Wikipedia, in fact, if Wikipedia is dedicated to transmit knowledge, facts analyzed, Wikinews is intended to provide information and facts, day after day, but only facts, without any analysis. In summary, if Wikipedia can say « Why it happened », « What were the consequences, » « It could have happened differently if … », Wikinews is intended to say « It happened like this « . In this sense, Wikinews can later be used like a source for Wikipedia encyclopedia articles.
Another major purpose of Wikinews is to provide content freely reusable and neutral. Neutrality is allowed by using work from various sources with different points of view. Moreover, Wikinews is not governed by financial reasons, it can afford to cover any topical without economic consequence of its operation and can especially provide quality information and not information for buzz up for sale more and more. Finally, the free reuse of Wikinews allows rapid spread of neutral and comprehensive information without going through the barrier of rewrite to comply with the copyright, with the only condition being Wikinews original cite the author of the article.

A disingenuous proceedings

A similar procedure for the removal of the English Wikinews was launched in 2012 and had reached maintaining of the project. The procedure launched a few days ago is already disingenuous for the simple reason that the applicant has no Wikinews communities warned of its approach (we owe our knowledge of this procedure to the piercing eye of some who wikinewsians follow news on meta). Even worse, the contributor was well launched a preliminary discussion with German colleagues, but German Wikipedia , without even telling the German Wikinews. Thus, the first concerned by this procedure almost did not have the right to speak in this debate !


The proposer stated that he had made ​​an analysis of each language Wikinews, but with the use of Google Translate, some of its arguments are null and void from the beginning to this simple fact, including its assessment of the value of the information transmitted. According to him, most of the few active Wikinews (the Wikinews in French, for example) do not provide quality content or content « useful » for the reader, a simple argument based on personal opinion aided by an automatic translator. Second argument: low project activity; of course, most projects are nearly dead, but if we can offer them put to sleep, this is not in my view a reason to close the entire project in one time, especially those who are active.

Another argument derives from before, too few articles created; this contributor request a community of volunteers are not professional journalists to do the same job every day that journalists from AFP and Reuters! Not to speak that according to him, the quality of the content is poor or uninteresting, yet a personal opinion which can not be a valid argument. Not to mention he seems to forget that free projects are not governed by the concepts of productivity and profitability, its request goes completely against the spirit of free projects which indicates that we are volunteers and we work at our rate, when we want to transmit, what we want to send, to those who want to receive, regardless of whether they are 1 billion 1 million or shortly 10.

By accessing the arguments of some Wikipedians came to participate in the discussion, I noticed enormous lies based on personal views. Most people supporting this motion are in the category of “inclusionnists” for them all, even the hot news, may appear on Wikipedia, as such, Wikinews bothers them because it discredits and delegitimized their arguments about it. Some argue freely that Wikinews is known by anyone, and read by anyone, proving his worthlessness. In the example of the French Wikinews, which is the third in terms of consultation and the fifth in terms of content, what do we discover? For an unknown site and not consulted, it brings no less than 2413 de consultations per hour (giving 1,737,632 views for the month of February) with not less than 221 subscribers to his Twitter feed, you said unknown site and not consulted? We also note that if we can see some slowdown in most Wikinews, this is not the case with others who have a constant activity or growth, must they be sacrificed on the altar of all or nothing ?

The ultimate argument is that people are read on Wikipedia and not on Wikinews, but it may also be due to non-communication about what actually made ​​Wikipedia and rank it has great still mysteriously in Google searches.

A solution?

Of course, the contributor offers a simple solution to closing Wikinews: transfer content on Wikipedia, arguing that Wikipedia is much more reactive than Wikinews even in terms of timeliness. However, he forgets one important thing: as encyclopedia, Wikipedia can not receive rough information not analyzed, it is not a real-time media, it is Wikinews has this role. If it ever happens, Wikipedia would not be an encyclopedia, but a kind of catch-all contains everything and anything in the guise of being an encyclopedia. Contributor promotes the loss of a project to destroy the purpose and soul of another project; two disasters are a morally and ideologically unacceptable. This is why Wikinews needs to continue to exist.

Licence Creative Commons
Cette œuvre de Juraastro est mise à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution – Pas de Modification 3.0 non transposé.