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Issue

ID

Identity card programmes not only cost governments billions, but also give rise to significant human rights problems and potential miscarriages of justice

Nationwide ID programmes are established for a variety of reasons – race, politics and religion often drive their deployment. Studies of national ID card programmes have consistently found that certain ethic groups are disproportionately targeted for ID checks by the police. During the Rwandan genocide, ID cards designating their holders as Tutsis cost thousands of people their lives.

An ID card enables disparate identifying information about a person that is stored in different databases to be easily linked and analyzed through data mining techniques. This creates a significant privacy vulnerability, especially given the fact that government usually outsource the administration of ID programmes to unaccountable private companies.

ID cards are also becoming ‘smarter’. For example, biometrics identification is widely used today. Biometrics is the identification or verification of someone's identity on the basis of physiological or behavioral characteristics. It involves comparing a previously captured unique characteristic of a person to a new sample provided by the person. This information is used to authenticate or verify that a person is who they say they are.

We have campaigned across the world against the introduction of multi-purpose identification policies. We coordinated actions and led research initiatives in Australia, Canada, the Philippines, the UK and the US and led an international coalition against the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s policy on biometric passports. We work with our international partners to ensure that debates over identity systems are sufficiently informed about the risks of abuse and the challenges in deploying identity systems.

ID

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

In the media
Publisher: 
Gizmodo
Publication date: 
20-Nov-2013
Author(s): 
Adam Clark Estes
Original story link: 

The anti-surveillance group Privacy International just published a massive store of documents related to private companies selling surveillance equipment on the global market, and the contents are unsettling. In total, there are 1,203 documents detailing 97 different surveillance technologies, including everything from sophisticated spy cameras to software that can intercept phone call data, text messages and emails—just like the NSA does. The companies are also marketing these things to some of the world's worst despots.

In the media
Publisher: 
The Guardian
Publication date: 
19-Nov-2013
Author(s): 
Nick Hopkins and Matthew Taylor
Original story link: 

Stanley spoke as a new database revealed the number of private firms now selling spying tools and mass surveillance technologies. Some of the systems allow countries to snoop on millions of emails, text messages and phone calls.

The Surveillance Industry Index, which was compiled by Privacy International, has more than 1,200 brochures gathered from private trade fairs over the last four years. The events give firms a chance to tout powerful capabilities that are usually associated with government agencies such as GCHQ and its US counterpart, the National Security Agency.

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
Spiegel Online
Publication date: 
19-Nov-2013
Author(s): 
Judith Horchert
Original story link: 

Die Menschenrechtsorganisation Privacy International hat den Surveillance Industry Index (SII) veröffentlicht, eine Übersicht von Firmen, die Überwachungstechnologie anbieten. Zu sehen gibt es mehr als 1200 Dokumente von 338 Firmen in 36 Ländern, darunter auch Deutschland.

ANZEIGE
Vier Jahre haben die Aktivisten gebraucht, um die Übersicht zusammenzustellen. Sie bauen auf den von WikiLeaks veröffentlichten Spy Files auf, aber es sind auch 400 bisher unveröffentlichte Dokumente dabei; geholfen hat unter anderem die Omega Research Foundation.

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