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Edin Omanovic's picture

This week in London, the world's largest arms fair DSEI rolled into town, bringing together some of the world’s most sophisticated killing and torture equipment with some of the world’s worst human rights abusers. On sale this year was also some of the UK’s premier lawful interception and surveillance technology.

Considering the forum in which these technologies are being sold, and the caliber of customers looking to buy it, you would think that the sale of such technology from the UK is regulated in a similar way to the military equipment also on offer. 

Blog
Sam Smith's picture

It was only a year ago when the UK Home Office repeatedly made statements about how their capability to collect intelligence was degrading, and how new laws such as the Communications Data Bill were necessary to protect citizens.

In hindsight, given the revelations about the UK domestic mass surveillance programs, these once desperate cries for more crime- and terrorism-fighting tools now look like nothing more than attempts to illegitimately spy more on all citizens. Quotes from those debates look rather different now.

Unable to access

“The Agencies require access to communications data – in certain tightly controlled circumstances and with appropriate authorisation – in the interests of national security. We recognise that changing technology means that the Agencies are unable to access all the communications data they need, that the problem is getting worse, and that action is needed now.”1

Edward Snowden’s documents show otherwise.

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Kenneth Page's picture

Through our Big Brother Incorporated project, Privacy International over the past two years has been campaigning against the export of surveillance technologies by Western companies to repressive regimes. One of the seminal moments of this campaign was in 2011, when we partnered with Wikileaks to release the SpyFiles, which catalogued hundreds of brochures, presentations, marketing videos, and technical specifications exposing the inner workings of the international trade in surveillance technologies.

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Carly Nyst's picture

Privacy International will soon be launching a research and advocacy project entitled Aiding Surveillance that will focus on the role of international development, humanitarian and funding organisations in promoting privacy and data protection. Click here to join our mailing list to find out more about this project and all of PI's activities.

The development agenda is heralding a new cure-all for humanitarian and development challenges – data.

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Caroline Wilson Palow's picture

The calculated detention, interrogation, and search of David Miranda brings into sharp relief the draconian legal frameworks that define security and policing in the United Kingdom. These events highlight not only the imperilled state of privacy rights and free expression in Britain, but the breakdown of the democratic institutions that should be protecting individuals not only from terrorists, but from unrestrained government power.

Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was detained at Heathrow Airport on Sunday. He was subjected to almost nine hours of questioning for being associated with a writer and newspaper that has blown the lid off of the overreaching activities of Western intelligence agencies. Miranda also had several of his electronic devices seized, including his laptop, USB thumbdrives, mobile phone, camera, and gaming consoles.

Blog
Carly Nyst's picture

For some time now there has been a need to update understandings of existing human rights law to reflect modern surveillance technologies and techniques. Nothing could demonstrate the urgency of this situation more than the recent revelations confirming the mass surveillance of innocent individuals around the world.

Blog
Sam Smith's picture

Barclays recently announced that they were looking to sell "aggregated" customer data to third parties. While the news sparked concern among the UK public, the practice, unfortunately, is becoming common among many industries.

A few months ago, it was revealed that Everything Everywhere appeared to be selling location and de-identified data to Ipsos MORI, who in turn made it available to third parties, which included offering it to the Police. Despite another outcry from the public, this type of sale doesn't appear to be stopping.

Blog
Shannon Kisch's picture

Since mid-2012 the Hebrew University International Human Rights Clinic has been collaborating with Privacy International to produce research about the state of privacy laws and protections in Israel and worldwide.

Last week marked the launch of a long-anticipated pilot of a controversial Israeli biometric database, a project that has been the target of civil society protest and the subject of a challenge in the Israeli Supreme Court.

While there is no shortage of institutions maintaining databases containing personal information of large sections of Israeli society – Israel’s Defense Force, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and the Election Authorities, to name just a few – this latest effort raises particular concerns about privacy and the protections of civil liberties.

Blog
Alinda Vermeer's picture

Following reports that the Mexican prosecution authority appears to be not only using FinFisher, but also to be involved in a corruption scandal surrounding the purchase of this intrusive surveillance technology, the Mexican Permanent Commission (composed of members of the Mexican Senate and Congress) has urged Mexico's Federal Institute for Access to Public Information and Data Protection (IFAI) to investigate the use of spyware in Mexico.

Blog
Sam Smith's picture

It is a long-standing privacy principle that an individual should have access to their personal information. This is particularly necessary in healthcare - after all there is nothing more personal than health information.

As the mass digitisation of health records increases, many issues arise about this access right.  The right of 'subject access' comes with its own complexities. One challenge is that individuals can sometimes be compelled to conduct subject access requests in order to share their sensitive information with other institutions who wouldn't normally be able to access this information. Another challenge is around the issue of parental access to the health information of adolescents.

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