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Dr Gus Hosein's picture

Twelve years after the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) was passed by the UK Parliament, permitting the interception of communications without a judicial warrant and allowing the police to self-authorise access to communications metadata, some parts of this dangerous law are finally being properly scrutinised. This isn't an intentional review, but rather a by-product of a joint parliamentary committee's interrogation of the draft Communications Data Bill, the Home Office's latest scheme for mass retention of communications and online activity in the UK. After hearing evidence from politicians, civil servants, industy and civil society about current surveillance practices in Britain, the Joint Committee were particularly damning about the RIPA regime in their final report, published yesterday. They wrote: 

Blog
Emma Draper's picture

Today we launch the public consultation process for the International Principles on Communications Surveillance and Human Rights. From now until January 3rd, we are inviting comments and suggestions on the draft principles.

Blog
Nigel Waters's picture

There have been two rounds of meetings in 2012 of the OECD Committee for Information, Computer and Communications Policy (ICCP ) and some of its working parties – in May and October 2012, with further meeting of two working parties in December.  A ‘foresight forum’ on the ‘big data’ theme was held on 22 October. Civil society interest in the ICCP work programme is formalised through the Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (CSISAC).

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Nina Hanbury's picture

Last month, US District Judge William Griesbach ruled that police can lawfully install covert digital surveillance cameras on private property without a warrant. Officers of the Drug Enforcement Agency had entered a property belonging to Marco Magana, which was littered with ‘no trespassing’ signs and behind a locked gate, and installed hidden cameras without the consent or knowledge of either the occupant or a court of law. In what has been described by Salon as “yet another blow to US citizens’ dwindling expectation of privacy from government surveillance”, the Judge ruled that this did not constitute a breach of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. Given the central role of the Fourth Amendment in upholding due process, this case sets a dangerous precedent for the protection of privacy and the use of electronic surveillance.

Blog
Carly Nyst's picture

One of the first things that strikes you about the chaotic East African metropolises of Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe is the blanket of adverts for mobile phone companies that covers them, from the walls of the immigration hall at Harare airport, to the rickety shacks that line the dusty streets of Kampala. Where official signage is unavailable, DIY versions are painted onto the roofs and walls of houses and small businesses. Stores selling mobile phones are rarely more than a few short steps away, as are the clumps of cell towers that stand tall above throngs of people talking, texting and transferring money on their mobile devices. The message is clear: mobile telephony has arrived in Africa, and everyone wants - and can have - a piece of it. But at what price?

Blog
Dr Gus Hosein's picture

Communications surveillance is one of the most significant threats to personal privacy posed by the state. This is why many statements of fundamental rights across the world give special regard to the privacy of communications. For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 12:

No one should be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks on his honour or reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interferences or attacks.

Blog
Emma Draper's picture

Privacy International asked lawyers, activists, researchers and hackers at Defcon 2012 about some of the debates that thrive at the intersection between law, technology and privacy. We also wanted to know why privacy matters to them, and what they thought the future of privacy looked like. This video is a result of those conversations. 

Featuring Cory Doctorow, Kade Crockford, Jameel Jaffer, Dan Kaminsky, Chris Soghoian, Marcia Hoffman, Moxie Marlinspike, Phil Zimmerman, Hanni Fakhoury and Eli O.

Many thanks to Michelle Leddon for creating this video.
Blog
Sam Smith's picture

Large institutions tend to focus internally, with minimal regard to the external environment. Open Data becoming institutionalised is not different, and as a leading edge country in opening data, the UK is making the predictable mistakes first:

Blog
Sam Smith's picture

Let's be clear: the Open Data movement is not about the pursuit of complete and unconditional openness. We know that it would be unwise to publish details of police patrol patterns, or the combination to the safe containing the crown jewels. We believe that fundamental reference data like ordnance survey maps, transport timetables, and company information should be freely available to all - information about objects, rather than information about people. Internationally, slightly different standards apply in different countries, but in the UK open data can be defined as "non-personally identifiable data produced in the course of an organisation’s ordinary business". However, between 'open data' and 'personal data' there is a large grey area, and inevitably the boundaries are sometimes blurry. Serious privacy issues usually arise when an institution sees individuals as objects. 

Blog
Sam Smith's picture

We all remember the characteristics of the people we went to school with. In primary school, George was excellent at Music; Michelle aced Science in high school; Julian did that odd combination of college courses and had a problem with authority. Well, there's a national database that records all this information and more. The National Pupil Database (NPD, previously the School Census) contains over 400 variables, covers every year of a child’s education from nursery to A-levels, and anyone who attended a state school in the past ten years is included - there is no opt out. And now, the Department for Education wants to allow access to it.

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