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Anna Crowe's picture

The following piece originally appeared on Linda Raftree's "Wait...What" blog, a site focusing on bridging community development and technology.

New technologies hold great potential for the developing world, and countless development scholars and practitioners have sung the praises of technology in accelerating development, reducing poverty, spurring innovation and improving accountability and transparency.

Worryingly, however, privacy is presented as a luxury that creates barriers to development, rather than a key aspect to sustainable development. This perspective needs to change.

Blog
Dr Gus Hosein's picture

Want to work for a small charity that holds governments and companies to account on surveillance? We are excited to announce three new openings at Privacy International.

PI is embarking on a new project to work with partners across the world to conduct advocacy and investigations into government surveillance programmes. The project will involve research to identify case studies of surveillance abuses by government, and we will work with local investigators to document case studies of human rights abuse relating to surveillance, identify potential victims of wrongful surveillance, and identify witnesses and sources. Advocacy plays a strong role in this project, and we will collaborate with civil society partners to raise awareness about modern communications surveillance capabilities and advocate for policy change to enhance privacy rights.

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Alinda Vermeer's picture

Nine months ago, 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 OECD against Gamma International, a company that exported the FinFisher intrusive surveillance system and Trovicor, a German company (formerly a business unit of Siemens) which sells internet monitoring and mass surveillance products. This week, we’ve learned that the German National Contact Point (NCP) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will not be investigating the most serious allegations included in the complaint against Trovicor.

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Edin Omanovic's picture

Privacy International is currently engaged in a joint project on export controls with the Open Technology Institute and Digitale Gesellschaft. The blog post below was co-written by Edin Omanovic and Tim Maurer and is also available on the OTI blog.

Export controls have something of a bad reputation in technology circles, and not without good reason.

Blog
Carly Nyst's picture

In the same week that the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice labelled the retention of electronic communications data throughout Europe as a “serious interference with the right to privacy”, the French National Assembly has codified into law a suite of invasive and unrestrained surveillance powers, allowing an expanded range of government bodies invasive access to citizens electronic communications data and content and threatening the privacy rights of the French people. 

Blog
Alexandrine Pirlot's picture

New technologies may hold great benefits for the developing world, but without strong legal frameworks ensuring that rights are adequately protected, they pose serious threats to populations they are supposed to empower.

This is never more evident than with the rapid and widespread implementation of biometric technology. Whilst concerns and challenges are seen in both developed and developing countries when it comes to biometrics, for the latter they are more acute due the absence of laws or flawed legal frameworks, which are failing to uphold and ensure the protection of basic human rights.

Blog
Carly Nyst's picture

Australia’s intelligence agencies have been conducting mass surveillance for more than half a century, routinely sharing the fruits of such labours with their Five Eyes allies in the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand. Australian spying facilities are staffed by the NSA and the UK’s GCHQ, and Australian intelligence officers are routinely tasked with work by their Five Eyes counterparts.  Australia and its allies have infiltrated every aspect of the modern global communications system. And they have done it all in secret.

Blog
Matthew Rice's picture

Last week, we learned that the National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of mobile phones where ever they are in the world. The report from of the Washington Post, shows the extraordinary scale and reach of the NSA programs that attempt to know everything about us including our location, at any time.

Unfortunately, a scaled down version of this system is also being sold by private surveillance contractors to the highest bidder. The company behind it? Israeli-American company Verint. Their Skylock technology claims to have the ability to "Remotely locate GSM and UMTS targets located anywhere in the world at cell level precision".

Blog
Anna Crowe's picture

News that the United Nations is using drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) to collect information in the troubled east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) illustrates the growing use – and acceptance - of surveillance technologies in humanitarian operations.

The deployment of two drones by the UN Stabilisation Mission (MONUSCO) in the DRC last week, to assist the Mission in fulfilling its mandate to protect civilians, had been long foreshadowed, with requests for their use in the eastern DRC dating back to 2008; the UN Security Council effectively authorised MONUSCO to use drones in January 2013 following a 2012 letter from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commenting on the ability of drones “to enhance situational awareness and permit timely decision-making” in the eastern DRC.

Blog
Alexandrine Pirlot's picture

Just a few weeks ago, thousands of Argentinians had their privacy rights violated when the country’s electoral registration roll, which had been made available online, experienced a major leak of personal data following the presidential election.

Despite some early warnings on the weaknesses of the system, the government did nothing to fix the situation, allowing serious technical flaws in an online system to persist and refusing to respond to the crisis, further jeopardising public trust in the system.

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