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This week the United States Congress voted to strip away one of the country’s few safeguards of the right to privacy by repealing rules which would have limited internet service provider’s ability to use or share customers’ data without customers’ approval.
Technologists hoped the “Crypto Wars” of the 1990s – which ended with cryptographers gaining the right to legally develop strong encryption that governments could not break – was behind them once and for all. Encryption is a fundamental part of our modern life, heavily relied on by everything from online banking and online shopping services to the security our energy infrastructure.
On a hot day in Nairobi, our researcher is speaking to an officer of Kenya’s National Intelligence Service (NIS). The afternoon is wearing on and the conversation has turned to the presidential elections, taking place in August this year. He has just finished describing the NIS’ highly secret surveillance powers and the disturbing ways in which these powers are deployed.
Privacy International Executive Director Dr Gus Hosein said:
The investigation was done with the assistance of Netzpolitik.
The Arab Spring of 2011 transformed the political landscape of the Middle East and Gulf. The scale of the popular uprisings seemingly caught off guard the governments of Syria, Egypt, and Libya among others, leading to brutal crackdowns, civil wars and instability that continue to this day.
This piece originally appeared in the Responsible Data Forum.
Would you mind if, every time you post a comment on Twitter, Facebook or another social media platform, the police logged it? I mean, it’s public — surely it’s fair game?
If you think that’s OK, then maybe it’s also OK for a police officer to follow you when you walk down a busy street. That’s also public, right?
Privacy International has today published an investigation, which sheds light on the shady deals that built Syria’s surveillance state and the role Western companies have played in its construction. The investigation also shows how Western surveillance companies seek to exploit loopholes to do business with repressive states.
This piece was written by PI Research Officer Edin Omanovic and originally appeared here.
Whatever happens over the next few years, if there is to be a storm, then it is best to prepare. It is essential that western liberal democratic societies are resilient enough to uphold their fundamental values.
Caroline Wilson Palow, General Counsel at Privacy International:
Privacy International has today written to government ministers, members of the opposition, and oversight bodies reaffirming its call for the UK government to reveal secret intelligence sharing arrangements with the United States.
Tech firms and governments are keen to use algorithms and AI, everywhere. We urgently need to understand what algorithms, intelligence, and machine learning actually are so that we can disentangle the optimism from the hype. It will also ensure that we come up with meaningful responses and ultimately protections and safeguards.
The elections in our midst here, there, and everywhere are increasingly resulting in governments who introduce policies that result in leaps backwards for dignity, equality, civil liberties, and the rule of law. Whether it is Poland or the Philippines, governments are overriding essential safeguards.
This week Britain’s proposed surveillance legislation took another step toward normalising mass surveillance. The United States of America has long promoted mass surveillance and maintains its authority to spy on the whole world.