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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

Blog
Anna Crowe's picture

Privacy International today is proud to announce our new project, Aiding Privacy, which aims to promote the right to privacy and data protection in the development and humanitarian fields. Below is an outline of the issues addressed in our new report released today, Aiding Surveillance.

New technologies hold great potential for the developing world. The problem, however, is that there has been a systematic failure to critically contemplate the potential ill effects of deploying technologies in development and humanitarian initiatives, and in turn, to consider the legal and technical safeguards required in order to ensure the rights of individuals living in the developing world.

Blog
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.

In the media
Publisher: 
BBC Radio
Publication date: 
29-Jul-2013
Original story link: 

Steve Hewlett presents a new series about how technology is reshaping notions of privacy. Privacy International Board Chair Anna Fielder joins Steve in this three-part series.

In the media
Publisher: 
Al Jazeera
Publication date: 
21-Jul-2013
Author(s): 
Simon Hooper
Original story link: 

Mike Rispoli of the privacy campaign group Privacy International said there were no clear rules governing border stops, especially regarding access to electronic data.

"The fact is that when the Terrorism Act was passed [in 2000] phones were very different to what they are now," he told Al Jazeera. "Now our phones carry so much information. They have pictures, they have browsing history and location information, along with text messages and phone numbers. We are operating in a legal framework that is woefully outdated."

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
The Telegraph
Publication date: 
15-Jul-2013
Author(s): 
Tom Whitehead and David Barrett
Original story link: 

Dr Gus Hosein, of the campaign group Privacy International, said: “We are extremely concerned by these intrusive tactics that have been highlighted by the independent terrorism reviewer.

Countries: 
Blog
Carly Nyst's picture

In a landmark report, the United Nations today has broken its long-held silence about the threat that State surveillance poses to the enjoyment of the right to privacy.

The report is clear: State surveillance of communications is ubiquitous, and such surveillance severely undermines citizens’ ability to enjoy a private life, freely express themselves and enjoy their other fundamental human rights. Presented today at the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, the report marks the first time the UN has emphasised the centrality of the right to privacy to democratic principles and the free flow of speech and ideas.

Blog
Maria Xynou's picture

It was only last year that women in Saudi Arabia finally gained the right to vote. However, it seems a sad case of ‘one step forward, two steps back’, as this year it was discovered that all Saudi women are being electronically tracked by their male ‘guardians’, who are automatically sent text messages when their female ‘dependants’ attempt to cross the border. For women seeking to escape abusive relationships, or simply the severe generalised oppression of women that operates throughout Saudi Arabia, this measure could be the nail in their coffins.

The automatic text alerts are part of an electronic passport system which was launched last year by Saudi authorities. However, the scheme of alerting male guardians to the cross-border movements of female dependents with SMS messages is thought to have been in operation for the past two years on an opt-in basis.

Blog
Maria Xynou's picture

Today, travelling within many cities around the world comes at a cost: privacy.

Electronic ticketing systems are proliferating, but it’s not clear how much information they collect or what they do with it. Privacy International has written to 48 transport authorities and companies operating transport services across the world requesting this data.

The kinds of personal information held about users of London’s Oyster card (which is used to travel by tube, train and bus) include full name, address, telephone number, email address and password, as well as the encrypted bank details of customers who purchase Oyster products using a debit or credit card. The Oyster ticketing system also records the location, date and time whenever an Oyster card is used to validate a journey. Transport for London (TfL) are currently making changes that will see Oyster retain customers’ names and contact details for two years after a customer last uses their card or buys an Oyster product. Details of debit or credit cards used to buy Oyster products are retained for a maximum of 18 months.

Blog
Carly Nyst's picture

Imagine a secret government list of suspicions and allegations, fuelled by unsubstantiated rumours provided by anonymous citizens with undisclosed intentions. The information contained in the list would not be measured against any legal burden of proof or supported by any credible evidence, but would – simply by its existence – become “fact”. Imagine, then, if the government could rely upon such “facts” to identify and implicate individuals for illegal behaviour. Such a system would be reminiscent of McCarthyistic tactics to ferret out suspected communists and traitors in 1950s America.

Blog
Eric King's picture

As part of Privacy International's investigation into the mass surveillance industry we have examined hundreds of legal documents, brochures and, most recently, patents. Patents are a form of intellectual property; patent-holders publicly disclose their inventions in exchange for the exclusive rights to use and commercialise them for a limited period of time. Patent registries therefore provide a window into the otherwise murky world of the mass surveillance industry.

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