Privacy International defends the right to privacy across the world, and fights surveillance and other intrusions into private life by governments and corporations. Read more »


Count

Syria

Syria

Blog
Anna Crowe's picture

Humanitarian agencies are collecting personal information for Syrians caught in the crossfire of a drawn-out and bloody civil war. Indeed, refugees fleeing persecution and conflict, need to access services and protection offered by the world’s humanitarian community. But in the rush to provide necessary aid to those afflicted by the crisis in Syria, humanitarian organisations are overlooking a human right that also needs protecting: the right to privacy.

Humanitarian and aid agencies are creating surveillance systems that collect and retain personal data with no standards or data protection principles in place. There are very real risks involved, including the creation of databases filled with the personal data of a vulnerable population. Good intentions aside, failing to protect information of Syrians could have the opposite effect: these communities will be more, not less, at risk.

Blog
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
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
Alinda Vermeer's picture

After a successful investigation by the US government into the illegal reselling of over a million dollars worth of surveillance equipment to the Syrian regime, Dubai distribution company Computerlinks FZCO has agreed to pay the maximum civil penalty of $2.8 million.

Computerlinks, in three separate transactions between October 2010 and May 2011, sold $1.4 million worth of devices developed by California-based Blue Coat to the state-run Syrian Telecommunications Establishment, which controls the country's access to the Internet, according to the US Bureau of Industry and and Security, the US agency in charge of export controls. Computerlinks also provided support "to help the end user of the devices to monitor the web activities of individual internet users and prevent users from navigating around censorship controls". 

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: 
The New Republic
Publication date: 
15-Mar-2012
Author(s): 
Nick Robins-Early
Original story link: 

And then there is Eric King, human rights advisor to Privacy International, who had been investigating the use of surveillance technology by authoritarian regimes for over a year—and who subsequently minced no words when it came to addressing those who furnished the wares, saying that Western companies were going "out of their way" to aid authoritarian regimes. When I recently spoke with him by telephone, King told me of people in post-revolutionary Libya and Egypt who had been sending him pictures of technology that had been acquired by their respective deposed regimes. “There’s barely a week that goes by without an activist sending me a photo of something and saying, ‘What is this and can it spy on me?’,” he says. “And it’s British-made satellite phone surveillance technology.”

Countries: 
Blog
Eric King's picture

An astonishing 13-page investigation by Osman Kibar at Dagens Næringsliv has revealed that Norway has invested over $2 billion in 15 companies that manufacture and sell surveillance technologies - and that the government has no plans to divest investments in companies that are complicit in human rights abuses abroad.

In the media
Publisher: 
Bloomberg
Publication date: 
10-Nov-2011
Author(s): 
Ben Elgin and Vernon Silver
Original story link: 

Eric King, human rights and technology adviser for Privacy International in London, said companies shouldn’t be allowed to recklessly disregard the potential for harm. “The fact that there may be several degrees of separation between the original seller and the end user does not negate responsibility when products designed to facilitate blanket surveillance of a population are used for exactly that,” King said.

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
BBC
Publication date: 
24-Oct-2011
Original story link: 

However, the London based campaign group, Privacy International, said it wants Blue Coat, and its competitors, to face further scrutiny. "Companies that manufacture surveillance technologies that facilitate the scope and levels of intrusion that Blue Coat's does must be aware of the potential havoc their products can wreak," said the group's human rights and technology adviser, Eric King.

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
Bureau of Investigative Journalism
Publication date: 
23-Oct-2011
Author(s): 
Pratap Chatterjee
Original story link: 

Eric King, head of the Big Brother Inc project at Privacy International, a London-based group that tracks the use of surveillance equipment said: ‘In the wrong hands, Blue Coat technology can all too easily be used as a tool of political control. It gives governments the ability to spy on an entire population’s internet activity and to target dissidents, activists and political opponents with ease.’

Countries: 

Pages

Subscribe to Syria