Originally published 18/3/14 in the Guardian
I am humbled by and grateful to the students of Glasgow University for this historic statement in defence of our shared values.
In a world where so many of our developing thoughts and queries and plans must be entrusted to the open internet, mass surveillance is not simply a matter of privacy, but of academic freedom and human liberty.
We are reminded by this bold decision that the foundation of all learning is daring: the courage to investigate, to experiment, to inquire.
If we do not contest the violation of the fundamental right of free people to be left unmolested in their thoughts, associations, and communications – to be free from suspicion without cause – we will have lost the foundation of our thinking society. The defence of this fundamental freedom is the challenge of our generation, a work that requires constructing new controls and protections to limit the extraordinary powers of states over the domain of human communication.
This election shows that the students of Glasgow University intend to lead the way, and it is my great honour to serve as their rector.