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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.

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“Open government” – the push for greater transparency, accountability and innovation from governments – is an idea that has gained increasing traction in recent years, as the potential for new technologies to enhance democracy is being realised.

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This post, written by Privacy International Research Officer Anna Crowe, originally appeared on the New Zealand Human Rights Blog, a website dedicated to discussion and debate on issues relating to Human Rights in New Zealand and around the world.

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While revelations about NSA mass surveillance dominated the news in late 2013, a less well-publicised scandal was engulfing the Australian intelligence services, which had just raided the offices of a lawyer representing the small nation of East Timor in an international case against Australia.

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

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News that the United Nations is using drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) to collect information in the troubled east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) illustrates the growing use – and acceptance - of surveillance technologies in humanitarian operations.

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Through the Aiding Privacy project, Privacy International is promoting the development of international standards around data protection in the humanitarian and development fields and working with relevant organisations to make this happen.

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The drive for accountability in aid spending has put humanitarian and development agencies under pressure to collect an ever-growing amount of data about those who receive their assistance.

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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.

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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.

Opinion piece
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The following is an excerpt from a guest article which appeared on openDemocracy, written by Privacy International's Research Officer, Anna Crowe:

Humanitarian actors often forsake the right to privacy in favour of promoting programmes utilising phones to deliver services, either through a lack of understanding or wilful ignorance as to the risks involved.

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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.