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

Developing Countries

Some of the world’s most invasive surveillance systems are being deployed in countries where individuals are most at risk. Developing countries are considered growth markets for biometric systems, health informatics, visual surveillance and expansive communications surveillance technologies, and citizens of these countries tend to lack the legal and technical means to defend themselves.

It has been argued that privacy is a Western luxury, and even a potential impediment to progress. Yet privacy is a universal human right, and our experiences in developing countries have shown us that, despite cultural differences, there is a deep common interest in information privacy and personal data protection amongst citizens and consumers in every economy. Privacy helps create a sense of human autonomy and dignity, and is therefore in many ways synonymous with progress.

However, local NGOs advocating for privacy in developing countries often struggle with uninterested governments and uncomprehending courts. There is comparatively little understanding of the nuanced relationships between privacy, security and development, or of the complex technologies involved. The default position of the authorities is often to collect as much information on as many people as possible, and human rights are rarely taken into account.

Our work in developing countries focuses on increasing the capacity of local groups and institutions to understand new risks and respond to developments in their countries. We help them to raise awareness of privacy issues in the local population, and to ensure that the public debate on privacy is well-informed and accurate. We also review key policy developments in a number of countries and assess their compliance with national constitutional requirements, international human rights conventions, and consumer protection norms.

Developing Countries

Blog
Anna Crowe's picture

The government of Pakistan is proposing a new law that significantly threatens privacy rights, in a blatant attempt to establish a legal regime containing broad powers when it comes to obtaining, retaining, and sharing data obtained through criminal investigations, including communications data.

The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2014, contains worrying aspects that threaten the right to privacy, including a provision that would permit unregulated information sharing with foreign governments. Pakistani rights groups are echoing Privacy International’s concerns and demanding that the draft law be rewritten. Pakistan has a poor human rights record and passing the law in its current form would represent a further step backwards in the protection of fundamental rights, such as the right to privacy.

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.

Event
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 18:30
Location: 
Committee Room 6, House of Commons. Enter through the St Stephen's Entrance to the Houses of Parliament

The Snowden revelations have reverberated throughout the world, sparking an international debate on state power and what privacy and freedom of expression means in the digital age.

The impact of the Snowden disclosures is global. While we view the debate from our domestic perspective, the impact has been significant for those who defend human rights and fight surveillance in emerging democracies.

Contact person: 

RSVP to:

Mike Rispoli
Mike@privacyinternational.org
+44 (0) 20 3422 4321

RSVP necessary?: 
Yes
In the media
Publisher: 
The Guardian
Publication date: 
18-Feb-2014
Original story link: 

Big data helps us to understand the true impact of business on the environment and could change our behaviour. But at what cost? Anna Crowe of Privacy International told the Guardian podcast, "There is a more general issue around data being equated with truth, that data is ging to tell us the truth about a situation when it can be deeply flawed."

Blog
Emily Linnea Mahoney's picture

In the late eighteenth century in Germany, ‘anthropologist’ Johann Blumenbach published a degenerative hypothesis that linked cranium and facial profiles to supposed character traits and accordingly divided human beings into five different races: the Caucasian, Mongolian, Malayan, Ethiopian, and American.1

In the 1870s, Alphonse Bertillon, a police officer in France, started a trend to identify criminals based on facial characteristics, alongside subsequent use of the camera to photograph and identify repeat offenders.

In the 1930s in Nazi Germany, IBM computer scientists devised an identification system in aid of the Third Reich’s attempt to systematically decimate entire populations.2

In the media
Publisher: 
BBC World Service
Publication date: 
28-Feb-2014
Original story link: 

Gus Hosein and Anna Crowe speak with BBC World Service on the past, and future, of privacy.

Countries: 
Blog
Dr Gus Hosein's picture

In Geneva this week, an expert seminar will be held at the Human Rights Council on the right to privacy. To inform these discussions and debates, Privacy International is releasing our report, The State of Privacy 2014, which identifies recent accomplishments from around the world, and highlights significant challenges ahead for this right.

To read the full report, go here.

Promoting and defending the right to privacy in national and international policy discourses is always an interesting challenge. The right to privacy is fundamental to who we are as human beings, insulating our most intimate and personal thoughts and deeds, and acts as a critical safeguard against abuse and overreach by pow- erful institutions. It is perhaps for these reasons that the right has for so long been under attack by governments.

Blog
Alexandrine Pirlot's picture

Big data consists mainly of data that is openly available, created and stored. It includes public sector data such as national health statistics, procurement and budgetary information, and transport and infrastructure data. While big data may carry benefits for development initiatives, it also carries serious risks, which are often ignored. In pursuit of the promised social benefits that big data may bring, it is critical that fundamental human rights and ethical values are not cast aside.

Expanding beyond publicly accessible data

Along with other humanitarian organisations and UN agencies, one key advocate and user of big data is the UN Global Pulse, launched in 2009 in recognition of the need for more timely information to track and monitor the impacts of global and local socio-economic crises. This innovative initiative explores how digital data sources and real-time analytics technologies can help policymakers understand human well-being and emerging vulnerabilities in real-time, in order to better protect populations from shocks.

Blog
Anna Crowe's picture

The following piece originally appeared on Linda Raftree's "Wait...What" blog, a site focusing on bridging community development and technology.

New technologies hold great potential for the developing world, and countless development scholars and practitioners have sung the praises of technology in accelerating development, reducing poverty, spurring innovation and improving accountability and transparency.

Worryingly, however, privacy is presented as a luxury that creates barriers to development, rather than a key aspect to sustainable development. This perspective needs to change.

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.

Pages

Subscribe to Developing Countries