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

Communications Surveillance

Interception and monitoring of individuals' communications is becoming more widespread, more indiscriminate and more invasive, just as our reliance on electronic communications increases.

Nearly all major international agreements on human rights protect the right of individuals to be free from unwarranted surveillance. This guarantee has trickled down into national constitutional or legal provisions protecting the privacy of communications.

In most democratic countries, intercepts of oral, telephone and digital communications are initiated by law enforcement or intelligence agencies only after approval by a judge, and only during the investigation of serious crimes.
Yet government agencies continue to lobby for increased surveillance capabilities, particularly as technologies change. Communications surveillance has expanded to Internet and digital communications. In many countries, law enforcement agencies have required internet providers and telecommunications companies to monitor users’ traffic. Many of these activities are carried out under dubious legal basis and remain unknown to the public.

We have conducted investigations to uncover communications surveillance schemes and the technologies that enable communications surveillance. We also work with technology providers to promote the use of secure communications technologies, and have worked with human rights groups to train them in securing their communications. We continue to monitor the use of communications surveillance, advocate for transparency and independent authorization and oversight, and promote other safeguards against abuse.

Communications Surveillance

In the media
Publisher: 
Wired UK
Publication date: 
11-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Olivia Solon
Original story link: 

Don't Spy On Us is a coalition of organisations that focus on defending privacy, freedom of expression and digital rights in Europe. These include: Open Rights Group, English Pen, Liberty, Privacy International, Big Brother Watch and Article 19.

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
Computer World UK
Publication date: 
11-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Glyn Moody
Original story link: 

Here in the UK, the Open Rights Group is also launching a new campaign today, called "Don't Spy on Us":

As part of this global day of action against mass surveillance, Open Rights Group, Liberty, English PEN, Privacy International, Article 19 and Big Brother Watch are coming together to launch Don't Spy on Us.

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
The Inquirer
Publication date: 
11-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Dave Neal
Original story link: 

Here in the UK we have the coalition group Don't Spy On Us, which is directing its protests at GCHQ. Its members include Privacy International, Big Brother Watch and the Open Rights Group. Citizens are asked to add their support on its pages.

In the media
Publisher: 
Vice
Publication date: 
11-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Joseph Cox
Original story link: 

 "At no point do we see the level of accountability that we would expect from an institution providing surveillance services," said Matthew Rice from Privacy International. In fact, he continued, the only people who keep these guys in check are those with a financial stake in their performance. "The general public, voters or a constituency base are not the ones who ultimately hold private companies accountable, but shareholders who want to make sure they are getting a good value for their investment."

Blog
Dr Gus Hosein's picture

Bulk metadata collection. The tapping of undersea fibre optic cables. Sabotaging internet security standards. Cyber Attacks. Hacking.

In almost every week since last summer, a new Snowden document has been released which details the growing surveillance powers and practices of intelligence agencies, each one astonishing in its own right. The documents have exposed the illegal activities and intrusive capabilities of the UK’s intelligence agency, GCHQ, which has secretly sought to exploit and control every aspect of our global communications systems.    

In the media
Publisher: 
NBC News
Publication date: 
07-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Matthew Cole, Richard Esposito, Mark Schone and Glenn Greenwald
Original story link: 

Eric King, a lawyer who teaches IT law at the London School of Economics and is head of research at Privacy International, a British civil liberties advocacy group, said it was “remarkable” that the British government thought it had the right to hack computers, since none of the U.K.’s intelligence agencies has a “clear lawful authority” to launch their own attacks.

“GCHQ has no clear authority to send a virus or conduct cyber attacks,” said King. “Hacking is one of the most invasive methods of surveillance.” King said British cyber spies had gone on offense with “no legal safeguards” and without any public debate, even though the British government has criticized other nations, like Russia, for allegedly engaging in cyber warfare.

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
Computer Weekly
Publication date: 
07-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Warwick Ashford
Original story link: 

Liberty, Big Brother Watch and Privacy International have described the inquiry as “deeply flawed” in an open letter to the ISC with copies to the prime minister and his deputy.

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
The Belfast Telegraph
Publication date: 
09-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Cahal Milmo
Original story link: 

A Privacy International spokesman said: “Whether it's mass interception of data through undersea cable tapping or cyber attacks, it has become clear that the current legal framework governing intelligence activities in the UK is unfit for purpose in the modern digital era, and reform is urgently needed.  Given the deeply flawed nature of this present investigation by the ISC, we hope that a full and independent inquiry is called. Without explaining the application and interpretation of the current legal framework, the ISC cannot properly reassure the public that UK intelligence agencies have not acted beyond the law or undermined cyber security.”

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
The Independent
Publication date: 
09-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Cahal Milmo
Original story link: 

A Privacy International spokesman said: “Whether it's mass interception of data through undersea cable tapping or cyber attacks, it has become clear that the current legal framework governing intelligence activities in the UK is unfit for purpose in the modern digital era, and reform is urgently needed.  Given the deeply flawed nature of this present investigation by the ISC, we hope that a full and independent inquiry is called. Without explaining the application and interpretation of the current legal framework, the ISC cannot properly reassure the public that UK intelligence agencies have not acted beyond the law or undermined cyber security.”

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
The Telegraph
Publication date: 
06-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Matthew Sparkes
Original story link: 

Privacy International spokesman Mike Rispoli said: "This latest news brings forth the very serious question of whether GCHQ's attacks on servers hosting chatrooms is lawful. There is no British policy in place to initiate cyber attacks. There has been no debate in parliament as to whether we should be using cyber attacks. There is no legislation that clearly authorises GCHQ to conduct cyber attacks. So in the absence of any democratic mechanisms, it appears GCHQ have granted themselves the power to carry out the very same offensive attacks politicians have criticised other states for conducting."

Countries: 

Pages

Subscribe to Communications Surveillance