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Matthew Rice's picture

When a product line becomes engulfed in controversy, the PR team's first move is to distance the corporation from the damage. The surveillance market is not immune to this approach, so when companies products are found to be in use by repressive regimes, the decision many boards make is simply to sell off that technology. This increasingly repetitive narrative is failing to solve any of the problems inherent with the sale of surveillance technology and in fact, is creating more.

Blog
Eric King's picture

Privacy International has compiled data on the privacy provisions in national constitutions around the world, including which countries have constitutional protections, whether they come from international agreements, what aspects of privacy are actually protected and when those protections were enacted. We are pleased to make this information available under a Creative Commons license for organizations, researchers, students and the community at large to use to support their work (and hopefully contribute to a greater understanding of privacy rights).

The categories

Though the right to privacy exists in several international instruments, the most effective privacy protections come in the form of constitutional articles. Varying aspects of the right to privacy are protected in different ways by different countries. Broad categories include:

In the media
Publisher: 
Deutsche Welle
Publication date: 
23-Mar-2012
Author(s): 
Cyrus Farivar
Original story link: 

Yet Eric King, of Privacy International, an advocacy group in London, cautioned that the ban might not go far enough.

"For a country like Iran in which all companies administering national infrastructure are effectively controlled by the state, it is still unclear whether the ban on exports of equipment and software "intended for use…by the Iranian authorities" goes far enough," he wrote in an e-mail sent to DW.

"Until such time as the Iranian government corrects its appalling attitude to human rights, there can be no guarantee that any surveillance technology exported to the country will not be used to facilitate torture, execution and unlawful detention."

Countries: 
Press release

The Council of the European Union today reinforced restrictive measures on EU exports to Iran, banning "exports of equipment and software intended for use in the monitoring or interception of internet and telephone communications by the Iranian authorities".

The Council also added 17 people responsible for grave human rights violations to the list of those subject to a travel ban and asset freeze. An existing ban on equipment for use in internal repression was transferred from the sanctions regime addressing the Iranian nuclear programme to the regime addressing human rights abuses, for reasons of coherence.

In the media
Publisher: 
Reuters
Publication date: 
22-Mar-2012
Author(s): 
Steve Stecklow
Original story link: 

ZTE markets its monitoring system as low-cost and user-friendly. In May 2008, the firm made a presentation to the government-controlled Iran Telecommunication Research Center about its latest networking products, including the "ZTE Lawful Intercept Solution," according to Privacy International, a London-based non-profit that advocates the right to privacy and obtained a copy of the presentation.

Countries: 
Press release

Privacy International’s Director-General Simon Davies has today written to Creativity Software CEO Richard Lee urging him to “follow suit” after surveillance technology company Area SpA withdraws their business from Syria.

In the letter, Mr Davies reiterated the seven questions he asked in his letter of 10th November - questions that Richard Lee has so far failed to answer. He asked whether Creativity has had dealings in other Middle Eastern and North African countries, and requested details of the nature of the technology sold to Iran, such as the worth of contracts, the particulars of software and hardware and whether Creativity's technicians have since visited the country. Mr Davies wrote:

Your answers will be crucial in preventing future harm, and in mitigating the harm your company has already done by selling such dangerous technology to a regime that shows as little concern for the lives, liberty and personal dignity of its citizens as Iran."

Press release

Privacy International today received an email from Saul Olivares, Sales and Marketing Director of Creativity Software, in response to the letter we sent to Creativity CEO Richard Lee yesterday.

Mr Olivares directed PI to an attached statement, in which Creativity stated that it was:

…proud to be a supplier of world class technology to MTN, in Iran and other countries. MTN is a company with the vision of being the leading telecommunications provider in emerging markets, with an avowed mission to speed up the progress of the emerging world by enriching the lives of the people within it.

Press release

Privacy International’s Director-General Simon Davies has today written to Prime Minister David Cameron and Creativity Software CEO Richard Lee following revelations that Kingston-based Creativity sold a location-tracking system to Iran.

Mr Davies expressed his disappointment that the Coalition has taken no steps whatsoever to stop the export from Britain of surveillance technology to repressive regimes in the Middle East and North Africa, where it is used as a tool of political control against political dissidents, human rights defenders and journalists. He flagged up a paragraph in the Conservative Manifesto 2010, in which Mr Cameron extolled the benefits of “new technologies” like Twitter, Facebook and proxy internet servers, and asked the Prime Minister to practice what he had once preached by preventing British companies from selling systems that stifle internet freedom and undermine the security of private communications. Mr Davies warned Mr Cameron:

Blog
Dr Gus Hosein's picture

Not since the 1990s has the internet been so exciting. With its use by political activists and journalists around the world, we can now again entertain the discussions that the internet brings freedom. Digital data traverses routers with little regard to national boundaries and so traditional constraints not longer apply. So it is no surprise that protestors on the streets of Tehran or Cairo are using the internet to organise. We like to believe in the freedom of the internet again, after the rush of "freedom" in the 1990s was replaced with "free downloads" provided by file-sharing and "free services" provided by internet companies.

Our dreamy thoughts of freedom are roughly awoken when these political activists and journalists are hunted down by their governments, imprisoned or worse. Could this wonderful internet actually make these political movements vulnerable? Indeed, it does and it is our fault. Our technologies are intentionally designed with vulnerabilities embedded within, as we design our technologies for ease of use rather than caution and protection.

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