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

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

In the media
Publisher: 
Russia Today
Publication date: 
20-Nov-2013
Original story link: 

Human rights groups are sounding alarms as Western firms sell mass surveillance technology in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, equipping governments and companies new capabilities to snoop on citizens.

Despite the public outcry over mass global surveillance being carried out by the NSA and the GCHQ, brought to light in May by US whistleblower Edward Snowden, the scandal has not prevented tech companies and countries from closing contracts on spy technology.

That was the conclusion by Privacy International, a surveillance technology watchdog that has spent four years studying over 1,000 brochures and seminars used at technology fairs in major cities around the world, including in Dubai, Prague, Brasilia, Kuala Lumpur, Paris and London, the Guardian reported.

In the media
Publisher: 
Il Mattino
Publication date: 
19-Nov-2013
Original story link: 

 L'elenco delle compagnie, pubblicato da Privacy International dopo 4 anni di lavoro, include anche un azienda italiana, la Hacking Team, fondata nel 2003 e basata - si legge nel rapporto - a Milano. Il rapporto sottolinea che «la normativa italiana per l'esportazione non regola nello specifico queste tecnologie, quindi possono finire facilmente nelle mani sbagliate». La ditta italiana sarebbe in grado di fornire sistemi di intercettazione per i cellulari come iPhone, Blackberrie e quelli basati su Windows o Symbian.

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
Motherboard
Publication date: 
19-Nov-2013
Author(s): 
Derek Mead
Original story link: 

The document trove, called the Surveillance Industry Index (SII) and released by Privacy International, and contains 1,203 documents from 338 companies in 36 countries, all of which detail surveillance technologies. Some advertised capabilities are astounding: A firm named Glimmerglass, which produces monitoring and repair equipment for undersea cables, touts in a brochure that its equipment enables "dynamic selection and distribution of signals for analysis and storage."

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

The documents are included in an online database compiled by the research watchdog Privacy International, which has spent four years gathering 1,203 brochures and sales pitches used at conventions in Dubai, Prague, Brasilia, Washington, Kuala Lumpur, Paris and London. Analysts posed as potential buyers to gain access to the private fairs.

The database, called the Surveillance Industry Index, shows how firms from the UK, Israel, Germany, France and the US offer governments a range of systems that allow them to secretly hack into internet cables carrying email and phone traffic.

Blog
Anna Crowe's picture

Humanitarian agencies are collecting personal information for Syrians caught in the crossfire of a drawn-out and bloody civil war. Indeed, refugees fleeing persecution and conflict, need to access services and protection offered by the world’s humanitarian community. But in the rush to provide necessary aid to those afflicted by the crisis in Syria, humanitarian organisations are overlooking a human right that also needs protecting: the right to privacy.

Humanitarian and aid agencies are creating surveillance systems that collect and retain personal data with no standards or data protection principles in place. There are very real risks involved, including the creation of databases filled with the personal data of a vulnerable population. Good intentions aside, failing to protect information of Syrians could have the opposite effect: these communities will be more, not less, at risk.

Blog
Matthew Rice's picture

Privacy International is pleased to announce the Surveillance Industry Index, the most comprehensive publicly available database on the private surveillance sector.

Over the last four years, Privacy International has been gathering information from various sources that details how the sector sells its technologies, what the technologies are capable of and in some cases, which governments a technology has been sold to. Through our collection of materials and brochures at surveillance trade shows around the world, and by incorporating certain information provided by Wikileaks and Omega Research Foundation, this collection of documents represents the largest single index on the private surveillance sector ever assembled. All told, there are 1,203 documents detailing 97 surveillance technologies contained within the database. The Index features 338 companies that develop these technologies in 36 countries around the world.

Opinion piece
Carly Nyst's picture

The following is an excerpt from a Comment originally publihsed by The Guardian, written by Privacy International's Head of Advocacy, Carly Nyst:

From databases to mobile phone apps and SMS systems, GPS tracking and humanitarian drones to biometric registration, new technologies are rapidly becoming central to the delivery of humanitarian and development aid.

Refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict are having their irises scanned and their identity documents digitised. Nurses in Nigeria are using SMS systems to communicate HIV test results to health facilities. Cash is being delivered to those living in Kenya's slums through the M-Pesa mobile-phone banking system.

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
Dr Gus Hosein's picture

Just search for the term "surveillance state" and you’ll pull up various uses of the term or news articles citing the phrase.

In some respects, this newfound concern can’t be a surprise; given vast new amounts of information in the public sphere since the Edward Snowden leaks began in June. However, it is critical to nail down the exact meaning of the term, so as the public and governments have the debate over State spying, we can actually know what we're talking about. Most importantly, this will help us push back against it.

Blog
Anna Crowe's picture

Today’s much-anticipated launch of the 2013 Aid Transparency Index, an industry standard for assessing transparency among major aid donors, shows that, despite progress, many aid agencies continue to maintain secrecy around what they are funding.

Further, for those agencies that achieved high rankings in the index, transparency alone does not prevent one of our larger concerns: aid which facilitates impermissible surveillance of communities and individuals in the developing world. Biometric databases, electronic voting registration systems, criminal databases and border surveillance initiatives are being backed by Western donors keen to see the adoption abroad of technologies that raise considerable controversy at home.

Pages

Subscribe to ID