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But campaigners warned that the new generation of drones could have profound consequences for civil liberties. "With the use of drones in European airspace spiralling, we urgently need greater clarity and transparency about when and how these tools are deployed," said Eric King of Privacy International.

"Not too long ago, this was the stuff of science fiction, but flying robotic devices equipped with facial recognition technology and mobile phone interception kit are increasingly commonplace.

In the media
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Yet as the British NGO Privacy International wrote earlier in the year about the CCDP: "In a terrorism investigation, the police will already have access to all the data they could want. This is about other investigations."

In the media
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For some companies in the west, selling surveillance technologies is a lucrative business: technologies that allow you to spy on computers and monitor the users. "Western countries are not limiting that trade. They are not putting any restrictions on what technology can go where. And that is a huge problem," warned Eric King of Privacy International, an NGO that is trying to monitor the export of surveillance technology.

Press release
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In a letter sent earlier in August to Privacy International's lawyers Bhatt Murphy, a representative of the Treasury Solicitor stated:

In the media
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But campaign group Privacy International, which lobbied the government for the export control change, points out that it can also be used by abusive regimes to monitor activists and dissidents...

Privacy International has requested more information on when and how the decision to control exports was made, and on the scrutiny that such sales received from the government.

In the media
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The campaign group Privacy International threatened to seek a judicial review of the decision by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills not to bar the export of the software to Egypt. The action could have drawn attention to the wider sale of such technology by UK companies.

In the media
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Eric King, head of research at UK organization Privacy International, where he runs the Big Brother Incorporated project, said he doesn't believe Gamma's malware was stolen.

"Gamma Group is one of the scariest surveillance companies that exists," he told DW. "They have no internal guidelines on who and where they sell their equipment to, beyond laws that are currently in place. Which sounds like a reasonable defense, apart from the fact that there are none. There are no laws at all that govern the export or sale of surveillance technology anywhere in the world.

In the media
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Meanwhile, the UK is profiting from selling spyware to tyrants: the UK-based organisation Privacy International is threatening the UK government with legal action for "turning a blind eye" to the sale of surveillance technology to rights-abusing regimes, despite its having the power to restrict such exports.

In the media
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In London, the group Privacy International has gone one step further, taking action into its own hands in a quest to track down users of the technology. PI has hatched a rather ingenious plan, investing earlier this year in what it calls an “IMSI catcher catcher”— a device designed to snoop on the snoopers, sniffing out anyone operating an IMSI catcher in a given location.

In the media
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Emma Draper, head of communications at campaign group Privacy International, said Google should be "hugely embarrassed".

"The company's handling of the Street View episode has been a litany of disasters," she added.

"The fact that this latest one is the result of incompetence rather than deliberate misconduct will be of little comfort to Google users.

"The US Federal Trade Commission is going to come down hard on Google, and very few of their executives will deny that they deserve it."

Blog
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Bloomberg reported today that security researchers have identified FinFisher spyware - "one of the world’s best-known and elusive cyber weapons" - in malicious emails sent to Bahraini pro-democracy activists, including a naturalized U.S. citizen who owns gas stations in Alabama, a London-based human rights activist and a British-born economist in Bahrain.

In the media
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The apparent use of FinFisher against Bahraini activists underscores the need for broader Western export controls of surveillance technology, says Eric King, the head of research at London-based Privacy International.

In the media
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A privacy charity says it is prepared to take legal action against the UK government if it fails to explain why it has not restricted the export of British surveillance technologies to repressive regimes, including Iran, Egypt and Syria.

In the media
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Human rights group Privacy International is preparing to take legal action against the British government for failing to control exports of sophisticated spy technology to brutal regimes.

Legislation allows the British government to restrict or stop exports if they are capable of aiding repression or breaches of human rights. But the NGO says that despite repeated requests the government has failed to take any concrete steps to stop British surveillance technology being exported to oppressive regimes.

In the media
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The UK government is in hot water with Privacy International which is suing it for selling surveillance technology to Syria, Iran and Egypt.

The privacy watchdog said that the UK government allowed surveillance technology to be exported to repressive foreign regimes.

For a while now privacy groups have been wondering how Iran had been getting its paws on some natty software to spy on its citizens. The body claimed last year that Creativity Software had been selling a location-tracking system to Iran.

In the media
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The grubby practice of allowing UK-stamped surveillance tech to be shipped to brutal regimes could land the British government in court to answer allegations of aiding human rights breaches.

London-based NGO Privacy International has repeatedly asked the UK to exercise existing powers under the Exports Control Act 2002 to help put a stop to commercialised made-in-Britain spook spyware being used to facilitate social and political repression.

In the media
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Back in April, the campaign group Privacy International wrote to the prime minister. The Guardian reported that:

"In a letter to Privacy International, Downing Street said the government was "actively looking at this issue" and was working within the EU to introduce new controls on surveillance."

But since then, there has not been a substantive word from the government.

In the media
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Privacy International wants the Government to introduce tighter export controls to help regulate the sale of surveillance technology overseas.

The privacy campaign group has threatened to commence legal proceedings against the Government unless it immediately imposes export controls on surveillance equipment.

In a statement to IT Pro, Privacy International confirmed the Government has until Monday 6 August to provide a “substantive response” to the letter or face possible legal proceedings.

In the media
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A major privacy group today said it is planning to take the UK government to court for allowing egregious surveillance technology to be exported to repressive foreign regimes.

Privacy International said evidence of surveillance technology being sold to foreign powers such as Iran has been amassing since 2011. The body claimed last year that Creativity Software had been selling a location-tracking system to Iran.

In the media
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Privacy International has threatened the UK government with legal action for "turning a blind eye" to UK sales of snooping technologies to regimes that use them against their citizens.

According to the campaign group, British companies are supplying technologies for monitoring web access to oppressive regimes, and UK officials are not adequately applying export control laws.

Press release
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The charity's lawyers, Bhatt Murphy, have written to the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills asking why, despite repeated requests, the government has failed to take any concrete steps to stop British surveillance technology being exported to regimes that routinely engage in internal repression and serious human rights breaches including unlawful detention, torture and enforced disappearance.

Press release
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Privacy International's founder and former Director General, Simon Davies, has been tasked by cross-party rapporteurs of the European Parliament to conduct a wide-ranging external assessment of the European Commission's proposed reforms to the EU data protection framework.

In the media
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Nevertheless, one London-based campaign group welcomed the news.

"Publishing videos online is a very effective way for charities and NGOs [non-governmental organisations] to show the world their work and attract support, but it has historically been difficult to do without invading the subjects' privacy or placing them at serious risk," said Emma Draper from Privacy International.

"Simply identifying certain people in certain situations - refugees, for example, or rape victims - can put them or their families in danger of their lives.

In the media
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The proposed legislation "is about granting law enforcement authorities and government agencies access to current and historical Internet data -- whom you Skyped, whom you chatted with on Facebook, who you emailed ... and when," Gus Hosein, director of Privacy International in London, told TechNewsWorld.

It "is highly controversial here in the UK, and already the government has had to climb down on some of the powers it was seeking," Hosein continued. "So we will see what happens once MPs (members of parliament) see the draft clauses."

In the media
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Anna Fielder, consumer rights advocate and campaigner at Privacy International, which campaigns against commercial and state intrusion, said consumers in other countries were starting to question the roll-out of smart meters. "Research in Germany, for example, has found that consumers say it's really creepy and they don't want Big Brother in their houses," Fielder said.

In the media
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UK campaign group Privacy International warned of what it described as the potential pitfalls of the technology.

"Facebook are in the process of building the largest and most accurate facial recognition database in the world, and with great power comes great responsibility," the organisation's head of communications, Emma Draper, told the BBC.

"We would hope to see very strict safeguards on how this information is stored and who has access to it, particularly if - as seems increasingly likely - Facebook is going to start making money from it."

In the media
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However, Gus Hosein, executive director of the Privacy International, the campaign group, said the legislation would “fundamentally change” the relationship between citizen and state, and their relationship with internet and mobile service providers.

“There are still serious questions to be asked about whether Facebook and Google will be brought under RIPA [the regulation of investigatory powers act] and how far the government is willing to go in undermining internet security in order to fulfil its insatiable desire for data,” Dr Hosein said.
 
In the media
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The Bill’s content was debated by privacy campaigners and MPs during an event at the Houses of Parliament yesterday.

Speaking at the event, Eric King, head of research at campaign group Privacy International, warned the proposals would put the “nation’s internet under surveillance,” as companies will be forced to retain data massive amounts of data about their customers.

“[The Government] is saying they want everything you’ve got and, if you can’t, we’ll give you the tools,” said King.

Press release
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The government today published a draft version of a bill that, if signed into law in its current form, would force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and mobile phone network providers in Britain to install 'black boxes' in order to collect and store information on everyone's internet and phone activity, and give the police the ability to self-authorise access to this information.

In the media
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But Anna Fielder, from Privacy International, said the proposed safeguards needed to be toughened up in line with the EDPS recommendations.

She said: "As things stand, if you don't want your daily data uploaded you have to opt out.

"Suppliers will go for daily data collection and our experience tells us many people won't bother to opt out.

"We think people should have the right to opt into frequent data collection at every stage."

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