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 »


Issue

Border and Travel Surveillance

There are few places in the world where an individual is as vulnerable as at the border of a foreign country. When travelling across the world, people are being subjected to multiple forms of tracking and profiling by unaccountable state agencies.

Local and international travel is changing radically as concerns about terrorism and migration increase. Security agencies require access to travellers’ information before they leave their homes, compulsory identification of travellers now includes the collection of fingerprints and facial images, and secret watchlists, dossiers and profiles are being developed. These policies and procedures are extremely costly, the potential for abuses and miscarriages of justice is high, and the benefits are debatable.

Our work includes investigating the systems that are planned and deployed, evaluating the methods and techniques, raising awareness about the implications of these new policies for the human rights of citizens and foreigners, and advocating for policy change.

Border and Travel Surveillance

Report
14-Dec-2013

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.

In the media
Publisher: 
Bloomberg
Publication date: 
10-Mar-2014
Author(s): 
Vernon Silver
Original story link: 

Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International in London, says the incident shows how the push for enhanced passport data hasn’t paid off. “It’s not just that the trade-off wasn’t worth it—the proponents of this policy were short-sighted and wanted to play with new technologies while building national biometric databases,” says Hosein, whose group advocates against government intrusions into private life, including the broadening use of biometrics such as iris scans and other measurements of peoples’ features.

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
The Guardian
Publication date: 
19-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Paul Owen
Original story link: 

Gus Hosein of lobby group Privacy International said, "Schedule 7 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 the reporting of mass and unlawful surveillance practices of the British government. To equate journalism with espionage, as the government has, is truly shameful. Today the court endorsed the practice of arbitrary use of power — that anyone passing through the border, Briton or not, can be subjected to a search and their devices seized for whatever purpose the government sees fit".

Countries: 
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
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
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.

Blog
Carly Nyst's picture

With the launch of the "Eyes Wide Open" project, Privacy International has put together a fact sheet about the secretive Five Eyes alliance. Consider this a guide to the secret surveillance alliance that has infiltrated every aspect of the modern global communications system.

• Beginning in 1946, an alliance of five English-speaking countries (the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand) developed a series of bilateral agreements over more than a decade that became known as the UKUSA agreement, establishing the Five Eyes alliance for the purpose of sharing intelligence, primarily signals intelligence (SIGINT).

• While almost 70 years old, the arrangement is so secretive that the Australian prime minister reportedly wasn’t informed of its existence until 1973 and no government officially acknowledged the arrangement by name until 1999.

In the media
Publisher: 
Forbes
Publication date: 
21-Nov-2013
Author(s): 
Runa Sandvik
Original story link: 

Privacy International has released a collection of 1,203 documents on the private surveillance sector, detailing mass surveillance technologies capable of covertly collecting millions of emails, text messages, and phone calls on citizens around the world. The documents mention two companies known for selling Internet monitoring technology and unpublished software vulnerabilities to the U.S. National Security Agency.

In the media
Publisher: 
The Verge
Publication date: 
20-Nov-2013
Author(s): 
Jacob Kastrenakes
Original story link: 

Advocacy group Privacy International has put together an extensive report on the powerful surveillance technologies being sold by private companies. The findings, it says, are "downright scary" and show that private companies are capable of acquiring spying tools just as capable as what the NSA and GCHQ are using. The details have all been collected in a database called the Surveillance Industry Index, which details the offerings of over 300 companies from across the globe. Some of the technologies being sold include a Trojan that can turn on a webcam and capture photos, software for eavesdropping, and tools that can wiretap undersea cables.

Pages

Subscribe to Border and Travel Surveillance