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Issue

Anti-Terrorism

In response to the increased threat of terrorism, governments around the world have granted security services and law enforcement agencies significant new powers of surveillance, often with limited oversight.

Anti-terrorism laws are often rushed through Parliaments with limited debate under the pretext of national security – but few of the powers they grant are restricted to combating terrorism. Instead, sweeping powers of surveillance are given to those responsible for low-level administrative and policing work. These laws and policies require the indiscriminate accumulation of vast amounts of information, and the mass analysis and profiling of data, while reducing safeguards against abuse. We aim to identify areas where there is the greatest risk of abuse, and advocate for better safeguards and protections.

Anti-Terrorism

Press release

In response to the ruling against David Miranda over his detention at Heathrow, Privacy International Executive Director Dr. Gus Hosein said:

Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000 is a law intended to fight terrorism, and was not drafted to target people like David Miranda. In this instance however the government used it to seize the devices of journalists to intimidate and obstruct the reporting of mass and unlawful surveillance practices of the British government. To equate journalism with espionage, as the government has, is truly shameful.

What this case has shown is that the Government will work to bend the confines of the law to suit their purposes, but alarmingly they will bend logic to do so as well. They have included remarkable claims about the nature of the Snowden disclosures, developed theories of a Russian conspiracy, and made unverifiable claims that the disclosures threaten national security. We are disappointed that the court did not check these wild allegations, and instead questioned the ability of journalists to understand the ramifications of their stories.

Blog
Caroline Wilson Palow's picture

Post updated on 14 April to reflect response from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Would you like to read the current international agreements establishing the intelligence sharing arrangements that underpin the work of the NSA and GCHQ? The rules that govern massive, coordinated communications surveillance operations, hacking, and the exploitation of networks and devices in the name of national security and the public interest?

What about the guidelines that set the boundaries of what certain cooperating intelligence agencies can and cannot do to the citizens of their own countries, and to foreigners?

Well, you can’t.

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.

In the media
Publisher: 
TechWeek Europe
Publication date: 
10-Dec-2013
Author(s): 
Tom Brewster
Original story link: 

Privacy International was cautious about the impact of the decision in Vienna, but was convinced this would make an impact on companies such as Britain’s Gamma International, which produces the FinFisher spying tool, and Italy’s Hacking Team, which offers competing technology.

Both have faced criticism after their code was uncovered in nations with poor human rights records.

“For the first time, intrusion technology such as those that Finfisher and Hacking Team sell will be explicitly and directly controlled for what that are – surveillance technologies,” Eric King, head researcher at Privacy International, told TechWeekEurope.

In the media
Publisher: 
The Canberra Times
Publication date: 
06-Dec-2013
Author(s): 
Philip Dorling
Original story link: 

Research by Privacy International, an independent watchdog group focused on the proliferation of surveillance technology, has found more than 338 companies offering a total of 97 different technologies worldwide.

Selling such equipment is perfectly legal and these companies say the new technologies are part of the fabric of modern IT systems and help governments defeat terrorism and crime.

But human rights and privacy campaigners are concerned that oppressive regimes can use such technology to clamp down on critics and democracy advocates.

Blog
Alinda Vermeer's picture
What is the Wassenaar Arrangement?

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies (the "Wassenaar Arrangement") is a multilateral export control regime in which 41 states participate.

The Wassenaar Arrangement was established on 12 July 1996 in Wassenaar, the Netherlands by 33 founding members to contribute to regional and international security and stability. It is the successor to COCOM, a NATO based group that discussed arms exports to non-NATO states, though the membership today is a lot more broad.

Blog
Edin Omanovic's picture

Two new categories of surveillance systems were added into the dual-use goods and technologies control list of the Wassenaar Arrangement last week in Vienna, recognising for the first time the need to subject spying tools used by intelligence agencies and law enforcement to export controls.

While there are many questions that still need to be answered, Privacy International cautiously welcomes these additions to the Wassenaar Arrangement. Undoubtedly, these new controls don’t cover everything they could, but the recognition that something needs to be done at Wassenaar level is a foundation to build from.

Blog
Kenneth Page's picture

The proliferation of private companies across the world developing, selling and exporting surveillance systems used to violate human rights and facilitate internal repression has been largely due to the lack of any meaningful regulation.

But a huge step toward finally regulating this billion-dollar industry was taken this week, when on Wednesday night the 41 countries that make up the Wassenaar Arrangement, the key international instrument that imposes controls on the export of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, released a statement describing their intention to finally clamp down on this trade.

In the media
Publisher: 
The Guardian
Publication date: 
02-Dec-2013
Original story link: 

The NSA's UK counterpart GCHQ faces even greater challenges under British and European human rights law. Advocacy group Privacy International has launched actions with the UK's investigatory powers tribunal and with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development against both GCHQ and seven telecoms companies working with it.

In the media
Publisher: 
The Inquirer
Publication date: 
02-Dec-2013
Author(s): 
Dave Neal
Original story link: 

Human rights group Privacy International has asked for a formal investigation into whether the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) offered to dump Australian citizens' personal comms data into the lap of the Five Eyes surveillance coalition.

Privacy International has reacted swiftly to a report in the Guardian newspaper that is based on Edward Snowden's whistleblowing revelations

Countries: 

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