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Kenneth Page's picture

After two years of pressing the Government to come clean on what, if anything, they are doing to investigate the potentially illegal export of the spyware FinFisher, a ruling today by the Administrative Court in Privacy International’s favour marks a significant turning point in our long-running campaign to bring more transparency and accountability to the surveillance industry.

The High Court slammed Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for not disclosing whether it was investigating the potentially illegal export of FinFisher, saying it was a “fundamental failing” to issue blanket refusals when Privacy International sought information. The Court rightfully ruled today that that the blanket refusal by HMRC to reveal the state of their investigation into the export of FinFisher was unlawful, must be quashed, and taken again.

Blog
Anna Crowe's picture

May Day serves as a timely reminder that across their history, intelligence services have targeted trade unions and other organisations working for progressive social change.

Intelligence agencies have sought to justify expanded surveillance capabilities on the basis of pressing national security threats, particularly terrorism; however, as the Snowden revelations have highlighted, intelligence agencies actually often use these capabilities to monitor organisations that promote human rights, including labour rights. In doing so, intelligence agencies not only undermine the privacy and security of communications, but also imperil the very development of progressive thought and alternative discourses that drive social change.

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Matthew Rice's picture

This year, an advanced surveillance system called the "Platform for Unified Monitoring and Analysis" will come online in Colombia. Frustrated with the the previous system, Esperanza, which only monitored telecommunications activity, the Columbian authorities turned to PUMA (Plataforma Única de Monitoreo y Análisis), a system that will allow them to monitor both telecommunications traffic and IP traffic in one source. The system, now based on Police property in Western Bogota, will now be able to "to cover 20,000 means of telecommunication." 

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Edin Omanovic's picture

UPDATE: In response to our letter, the Swiss Government have provided confirmation that under national law and the Wassenaar Arrangement, an export licence would be needed if a company was to export an IMSI Catcher. However, the response did not tell us new information regarding specific licences awaiting approval.

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Alexandrine Pirlot's picture

NETMundial – a global conference initiated by the Brazilian government – has produced ‘The Multi-stakeholder Statement of São Paulo’, a Roadmap and Principles on internet governance that could herald new respect for the right to privacy online. However, the outcome document fails to adequately recognise the relationship between internet governance and mass surveillance, reflecting a larger problem that was present throughout the two-day meeting.

By the end of the conference, both the Principles and the Roadmap had been watered down from previous versions, after governments pushed to soften language pertaining to mass surveillance. This of course is an ironic outcome, given that the conference was called in response to the Snowden leaks detailing the global surveillance infrastructure operated by the Five Eyes.

Blog
Eva Blum-Dumontet's picture

UPDATE: The Kosovar minister of European integration – Vlora Citaku – announced in a tweet on April 29th that the government has approved the law on the interception of telecommunications. The draft law will now be reviewed by the parliament.


The government of Kosovo is currently preparing a new surveillance law that will turn Kosovar network operators and service providers into de facto agents of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency, granting authorities real-time access to communications data without proper oversight or consideration for the right to privacy.

Blog
Anna Crowe's picture

The government of Pakistan is proposing a new law that significantly threatens privacy rights, in a blatant attempt to establish a legal regime containing broad powers when it comes to obtaining, retaining, and sharing data obtained through criminal investigations, including communications data.

The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2014, contains worrying aspects that threaten the right to privacy, including a provision that would permit unregulated information sharing with foreign governments. Pakistani rights groups are echoing Privacy International’s concerns and demanding that the draft law be rewritten. Pakistan has a poor human rights record and passing the law in its current form would represent a further step backwards in the protection of fundamental rights, such as the right to privacy.

Blog
Carly Nyst's picture

As privacy and free expression advocates hail the demise of the Data Retention Directive at the hands of the European Court of Justice, one large question is looming in the midst of celebration.

Now what? 

More specifically, what will be its impact of the national laws of the European Union countries? What steps should EU governments be taking to ensure the Court’s decision is given effect? What are the implications for communications service providers who have been collecting and storing data in accordance with the Directive for many years? How can we ensure that this harmful practice is ceased immediately?

Blog
Kenneth Page's picture

Global problems require global solutions. One of the significant emerging threats to human rights and democracy today is the incredible and mostly unaccountable spread of surveillance technologies.

Blog
Carly Nyst's picture

In response to a consultation being undertaken by the UN in accordance with December’s General Assembly resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age, Privacy International today called on the United Nations to recognise that mass surveillance is incompatible with human rights.

The submission to the Office of the High Commissioner to Human Rights confronts some of the biggest challenges to the right to privacy in the digital age, debunks some of the justifications put forth by the Five Eyes governments in response to the Snowden revelations, and argues that States owe human rights obligations to all individuals subject to their jurisdiction.

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