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Chloe Shuffrey's picture

On 1st February 2013 Privacy International, together with the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Watch and Reporters without Borders, filed complaints with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) against Gamma International, a company that exports “FinFisher” (or “FinSpy”) intrusive surveillance software, and Trovicor GmbH, a German company (formerly a business unit of Siemens) which also sells internet monitoring and mass surveillance products. The complaints ask the UK and German National Contact Points (NCPs), to ascertain whether the technology companies have breached the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises by exporting surveillance products to Bahrain, where the authorities use such products in human rights abuses.

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Amelie Draper's picture

Yesterday the Court of Appeal delivered its judgment in the case of R (on the application of T) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester & Others concerning the operation of the criminal records check system. The court was considering three cases that hinged on the same question: whether or not the blanket requirement on those applying for jobs involving contact with children and vulnerable adults (approximately four million people each year) to disclose all past convictions, cautions and warnings was an infringement of their Article 8 right to private and family life.

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Carly Nyst's picture

On International Data Privacy Day, it is important that we all ask ourselves: who has access to our personal information? Who can find out where we’ve been and who we’ve called, who can read our emails and our text messages? Who can find which websites we access and which files we download?

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Anna Fielder's picture

Today is Data Privacy Day, which commemorates the 1981 signing of the Coucil of Europe's Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. It is celebrated all over Europe, as well as in Canada and the United States since 2008. To mark the occasion, Privacy International, together with other prominent privacy and digital rights organisations, is launching the Brussels Declaration. It urges Brussels parliamentarians and European governments to listen to the concerns of citizens and consumers and strengthen their privacy rights when considering proposed data protection legislation.

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Robin Wilton's picture

We are the raw material of the new economy. Data about all of us is being prospected for, mined, refined and traded...and most of us don’t even know about it.

Every time we go online, we add to a personal digital footprint that’s interconnected across multiple service providers, and enrich massive caches of personal data that identify us, whether we have explicitly authenticated or not.

That may make you feel somewhat uneasy. It's pretty hard to manage your digital footprint if you can't even see it.

Although none of us can control everything that’s known about us online, there are steps we can take to understand and regain some level of control over our online identities, and the Internet Society has developed three interactive tutorials to help educate and inform users who would like to find out more.

We set out to answer some basic questions about personal data and privacy:

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Chloe Shuffrey's picture

The social news website MiroirSocial.com confirmed yesterday that the prominent French technology firm Bull SA has sold its controversial mass surveillance "Eagle" system to Stéphane Salies, one of its chief designers and an ex-director of Bull. The surveillance software was previously manufactured and supplied by Bull’s subsidiary, Amesys, a company that is currently the subject of a judicial enquiry in Paris following a legal complaint filed by two human rights organisations, the International Federation for Human Rights and the Human Rights League. It is alleged that the company became complicit in acts of torture by supplying its Eagle surveillance equipment to the Gaddafi regime in Libya.

After manuals bearing the Amesys logo were discovered by journalists from Wall Street Journal in the old regime’s internal security building, Amesys admitted that in 2007 it had contracted with the Libyan government to develop and supply internet surveillance technology that would enable Libyan authorities to intercept the communications of political activists and dissidents on a mass scale.

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Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan's picture

On November 12, the Russian Supreme Court okayed the wiretapping of an opposition activist. The Court ruled that spying on Maxim Petlin, a regional opposition leader in Yekaterinburg, was lawful, since he had taken part in rallies where calls against extending the powers of Russia’s security services were heard. The court decided that these were demands for “extremist actions” and approved surveillance carried out by the national interception system, known as SORM.

Manned by the country’s main security service, the FSB, this ”System of Operative Search Measures” has been in use for more than two decades. But recently, SORM has been upgraded. It is ingesting new types of data. It is being used as Moscow’s main tool for spying on the country’s political protesters. And it has become extremely useful in the quest to make sure that the Kremlin’s influence in the former Soviet Union continues long into the second regime of Vladimir Putin.

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Eric King's picture

Privacy International’s campaign for effective export controls of surveillance technology is still ongoing, but for one company, action can already be taken by HM Revenue & Customs to hold stop their unethical practices. Here is the story so far...

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Maria Xynou's picture

It was only last year that women in Saudi Arabia finally gained the right to vote. However, it seems a sad case of ‘one step forward, two steps back’, as this year it was discovered that all Saudi women are being electronically tracked by their male ‘guardians’, who are automatically sent text messages when their female ‘dependants’ attempt to cross the border. For women seeking to escape abusive relationships, or simply the severe generalised oppression of women that operates throughout Saudi Arabia, this measure could be the nail in their coffins.

The automatic text alerts are part of an electronic passport system which was launched last year by Saudi authorities. However, the scheme of alerting male guardians to the cross-border movements of female dependents with SMS messages is thought to have been in operation for the past two years on an opt-in basis.

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Sam Smith's picture

A full analysis of the UK Information Commissioner's "Anonymisation code of practice: managing data protection risk" will take time and working knowledge of how the code is used in practice. 

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