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Anna Fielder's picture

Trade has often been a positive driver in encouraging countries to adopt data protection laws, to ensure compliance and ability to conduct business with the European Union and other privacy-respecting partners. However, when free trade agreements are negotiated in secret and influenced by powerful business interests, the result is a severe watering down of existing privacy protections. 

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Matthew Rice's picture

The government of Pakistan has repeatedly shown it is relentless when it comes to deploying measures to censor and spy on its own citizens. Today, a report released by Citizen Lab reveals another repressive tool being used to control and prevent information being accessed on the internet -- this time with help from the Canadian web-filtering company, Netsweeper.

According to the report "O Pakistan, We Stand on Guard for Thee: An Analysis of Canada-based Netsweeper’s Role in Pakistan’s Censorship Regime", internet filtering software provided by Netsweeper has been installed on the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL)'s network, the country's largest telecommunications company that also operates the Pakistan Internet Exchange Point. Citizen Lab's report shows that the technology has been used for the purposes of social and political filtering, including websites of secessionist movements, sensitive religious topics, and independent media. 

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Mike Rispoli's picture

Remember when the world didn't know what Prism was? Those were the days. While privacy advocates, civil libertarians, and technologists had suspected or posited the existence of an extensive surveillance regime operated by the U.S. government, few knew the details and the extent of the operation.

Undoubtedly, we know more now than we did a week ago about the National Security Agency's covert operations and how the agency routinely spies on nearly anyone in the world. The public, many of whom were unaware of the mass surveillance conducted by intelligence agencies, or mislead by statements from government officials, are now part of a critical and concrete debate about what privacy actually means in the 21st century.

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Caroline Wilson Palow's picture

Simply put, the National Security Agency is an intelligence agency. Its purpose is to monitor the world's communications, which it traditionally collected by using spy satellites, taps on cables, and placing listening stations around the world.

In 2008, by making changes to U.S. law, the U.S. Congress enabled the NSA to make U.S. industry complicit in its mission. No longer would the NSA have to rely only on international gathering points. It can now go to domestic companies who hold massive amounts of information on foreigners and order them to submit any information of interest to the NSA. This could include the content of communications, documents, photos, videos, or locations and other so-called metadata -- any information held by the companies. No warrant is required -- though there is a secret court review. But that review's primary purpose appears to be to provide assurances that Americans won't be targeted.

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Carly Nyst's picture

This post originally appeared on the blog for Association for Progessive Communications, written by Shawna Finnegan and Carly Nyst, for APCNews and Privacy International:

At the 23rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, released his latest report – an analysis of the implications of States’ surveillance of communications on the exercise of the human rights to privacy and to freedom of opinion and expression. The report covers a number of important issues, including lack of judicial oversight, unregulated access to communications data, mandatory data retention, exceptions for national security, identity disclosure laws, restrictions on encryption and key disclosure laws, extra territorial application of surveillance laws and extra-legal surveillance.

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Mike Rispoli's picture

UPDATE: The Guardian has just reported that "The UK's electronic eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ, has been secretly gathering intelligence from the world's biggest internet companies through a covertly run operation set up by America's top spy agency."

This recent news reveals a long-held suspicion that the GCHQ had the very powers they were seeking to place on a statutory footing with the Snooper Charter, a bill that was knocked back for being unnecessary and disproportionate. Keeping the public in the dark about secretive and potentially unlawful programs must stop - and greater oversight is needed to ensure human rights are not being trampled.

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Mike Rispoli's picture

The revelations of the US government's massive and indiscriminate surveillance program are absolutely frightening, putting before the public's eyes the breadth of a secret, dragnet spying regime which casts every US citizen as a suspect.

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Carly Nyst's picture

In a landmark report, the United Nations today has broken its long-held silence about the threat that State surveillance poses to the enjoyment of the right to privacy.

The report is clear: State surveillance of communications is ubiquitous, and such surveillance severely undermines citizens’ ability to enjoy a private life, freely express themselves and enjoy their other fundamental human rights. Presented today at the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, the report marks the first time the UN has emphasised the centrality of the right to privacy to democratic principles and the free flow of speech and ideas.

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Sam Smith's picture

Compulsory data on every state school pupil in the country can now be used for research “promoting the education or well-being of children in England”, according to UK Department for Education.

The Department’s response to the highly worrying National Pupil Database (NPD), released in late May, is far narrower than previously suggested late last year, with none of the deeply troubling aspects being included in the final proposals, and existing definitions of terms remaining unchanged.

The Database tracks children's attainment and characteristics from nursery school starting at age 4, through and across schools, up to University at 18. The narrow scope of the use was made clear when PI attended a meeting at the DfE's request, but will be become more so in the update of the application process which will follow the change in rules.

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Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan's picture

A longer version of this article was previously published in Wired on 10 May 2013.

We all know surveillance is big in Putin’s Russia. What you may not know is that Russia’s surveillance tech is being used all over the world, even in the U.S.

The Kremlin is up to its domes in spy technology. One reason is fear, provoked by the Arab Spring, of a growing and diffuse protest movement that uses social media to organize. Notably, the authorities have taken an interest in DPI (deep packet inspection) tools, which are essential to monitoring the internet Russia-wide. The largest voice-recognition company in Russia, has likewise developed close ties with the authorities.

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