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

Consumer Protection

Corporations are collecting unprecedented levels of personal information on consumers – companies now know more about their customers than governments could ever dream of knowing about their citizens.

Companies that collect and sell personal information make up one of the most lucrative industries in the world, and marketplace dynamics pose serious threats to consumer privacy. There have been several recent cases of 'races to the bottom', in which companies compete with each other to collect more and more valuable data on their users and customers. Certain companies are leading the charge with abusive and invasive profiling of data and innovative new methods of grabbing information from seemingly innocuous interactions. These practices tend to create short-term competitive disadvantages for the privacy-friendly companies, although in the long-term customer loyalty and goodwill may prove more valuable.

It is crucial to raise awareness amongst consumers about the commercial surveillance to which they are subjected on a daily basis, in order to all them to make better-informed decisions about whether or not to share personal information with certain companies. Equally, companies need to be more open about why they collect information and how it is processed.

We monitor industry practices and advocate for change when we see a downward spiral beginning. We often seek regulatory action against new business models and practices that pose significant risks to privacy principles or that risk setting dangerous precedents. We also work with companies to help them understand the risks of their products and services.

Consumer Protection

Press release

Transparency reports have traditionally played a critical role in informing the public on the lawful access requests made by governments to companies like Facebook. These reports have provided a useful accountability mechanism for users to know what governments are asking for and how often. Transparency reports also inform users as to what intermediaries are doing to protect their privacy when it comes to sharing data with governments. Given Facebook's ever-growing presence in the lives of people around the world, we commend them for releasing this report today -- a release that has been a long time coming.

In the media
Publisher: 
The Telegraph
Publication date: 
09-Aug-2013
Author(s): 
Sophie Curtis
Original story link: 

In particular, Privacy International asks the telcos to outline company policies for assessing the lawfulness of government requests, and describe any requests they received from authorities to intercept information, any steps taken to oppose or resist such orders, and the amount they have been paid for their cooperation with governments.

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
ComputerWorld UK
Publication date: 
09-Aug-2013
Author(s): 
Antony Savvas
Original story link: 

"By complying with government requests, companies are unlawfully participating in mass and indiscriminate surveillance and are in breach of Article 8,” said Privacy International.

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
PC Pro
Publication date: 
09-Aug-2013
Author(s): 
Nicole Kobie
Original story link: 

Eric King, head of research at Privacy International, said Tempora's operation would "not have been possible without the complicity" of the named firms. "Despite the companies' obligation to respect human rights standards, particularly when governments seek to violate them, spy agencies are being allowed to conduct mass surveillance on their systems," King said.

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
TeckWeek Europe
Publication date: 
09-Aug-2013
Author(s): 
Tom Brewster
Original story link: 

Privacy International, which has already filed a complaint about the actions of the UK intelligence services, claimed the companies “colluded” with GCHQ and failed to protect customers’ right to privacy.

Countries: 
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.

Blog
Sam Smith's picture

Barclays recently announced that they were looking to sell "aggregated" customer data to third parties. While the news sparked concern among the UK public, the practice, unfortunately, is becoming common among many industries.

A few months ago, it was revealed that Everything Everywhere appeared to be selling location and de-identified data to Ipsos MORI, who in turn made it available to third parties, which included offering it to the Police. Despite another outcry from the public, this type of sale doesn't appear to be stopping.

In the media
Publisher: 
The Independent
Publication date: 
22-Jul-2013
Author(s): 
Kunal Dutta
Original story link: 

Privacy International recently submitted a legal challenge calling on the suspension of Britain’s use of information from the National Security’s Agency Prism programme, and from the Tempora programme of surveillance of emails, phone calls and Skype conversations.

Countries: 
Blog
Sam Smith's picture

It is a long-standing privacy principle that an individual should have access to their personal information. This is particularly necessary in healthcare - after all there is nothing more personal than health information.

As the mass digitisation of health records increases, many issues arise about this access right.  The right of 'subject access' comes with its own complexities. One challenge is that individuals can sometimes be compelled to conduct subject access requests in order to share their sensitive information with other institutions who wouldn't normally be able to access this information. Another challenge is around the issue of parental access to the health information of adolescents.

In the media
Publisher: 
Wired UK
Publication date: 
25-Jun-2013
Author(s): 
Liat Clark
Original story link: 

Meanwhile, UK charity Privacy International warns that the public simply needs to be wary of what information it chooses to share with any internet company.

Pages

Subscribe to Consumer Protection