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Today there are also live demonstrations planned in Denmark, Stockholm and the US. In London this evening there will be an event including lectures on how to improve your online security as well as the launch of a campaign called Don’t Spy on Us, backed by Liberty and Privacy International, which calls for an inquiry into mass surveillance in the UK.

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In the UK, the protest was launched at 11:30 with a thunderclap, a mass call on social media for wider opposition to spying. That opening strike was supported by users including Owen Jones, Graham Linehan, and Tom Watson MP, and was organised in co-operation with a range of civil liberties organisations including Liberty, English PEN, Privacy International, Article 19 and Big Brother Watch.

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Don't Spy On Us is a coalition of organisations that focus on defending privacy, freedom of expression and digital rights in Europe. These include: Open Rights Group, English Pen, Liberty, Privacy International, Big Brother Watch and Article 19.

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Here in the UK, the Open Rights Group is also launching a new campaign today, called "Don't Spy on Us":

As part of this global day of action against mass surveillance, Open Rights Group, Liberty, English PEN, Privacy International, Article 19 and Big Brother Watch are coming together to launch Don't Spy on Us.

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Here in the UK we have the coalition group Don't Spy On Us, which is directing its protests at GCHQ. Its members include Privacy International, Big Brother Watch and the Open Rights Group. Citizens are asked to add their support on its pages.

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 "At no point do we see the level of accountability that we would expect from an institution providing surveillance services," said Matthew Rice from Privacy International. In fact, he continued, the only people who keep these guys in check are those with a financial stake in their performance. "The general public, voters or a constituency base are not the ones who ultimately hold private companies accountable, but shareholders who want to make sure they are getting a good value for their investment."

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Eric King, a lawyer who teaches IT law at the London School of Economics and is head of research at Privacy International, a British civil liberties advocacy group, said it was “remarkable” that the British government thought it had the right to hack computers, since none of the U.K.’s intelligence agencies has a “clear lawful authority” to launch their own attacks.

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Liberty, Big Brother Watch and Privacy International have described the inquiry as “deeply flawed” in an open letter to the ISC with copies to the prime minister and his deputy.

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A Privacy International spokesman said: “Whether it's mass interception of data through undersea cable tapping or cyber attacks, it has become clear that the current legal framework governing intelligence activities in the UK is unfit for purpose in the modern digital era, and reform is urgently needed.  Given the deeply flawed nature of this present investigation by the ISC, we hope that a full and independent inquiry is called.

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A Privacy International spokesman said: “Whether it's mass interception of data through undersea cable tapping or cyber attacks, it has become clear that the current legal framework governing intelligence activities in the UK is unfit for purpose in the modern digital era, and reform is urgently needed.  Given the deeply flawed nature of this present investigation by the ISC, we hope that a full and independent inquiry is called.

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Privacy International spokesman Mike Rispoli said: "This latest news brings forth the very serious question of whether GCHQ's attacks on servers hosting chatrooms is lawful. There is no British policy in place to initiate cyber attacks. There has been no debate in parliament as to whether we should be using cyber attacks. There is no legislation that clearly authorises GCHQ to conduct cyber attacks.

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Campaign group Privacy International is also worried.

"There is no legislation that clearly authorises GCHQ to conduct cyber-attacks," said head of research Eric King.

"So, in the absence of any democratic mechanisms, it appears GCHQ has granted itself the power to carry out the very same offensive attacks politicians have criticised other states for conducting."

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 Anna Fielder, Trustee and Board Chair at Privacy International, said, "Political will is crucial at this stage. The snail pace of the discussions in the EU Council is nothing short of scandalous - one step forward two steps backwards during the last six months of the Lithuanian Presidency. This lack of progress is to the detriment of people's rights."

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"Transparency reports for a long time were really insightful tools for us to see what governments were asking the tech companies," Privacy International's Mike Rispoli told the BBC.

"Now we know that the game has changed.

"Governments do not need to go to companies to get user data - they can directly intercept it. They do not need to go through the front door anymore, they have kicked down the back door."

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"The anti-Snowden discourse is no more than a reflection of the perverse attachment to secrecy and obfuscation that dominates intelligence agencies and undermines the fundamental principles of transparency and accountability," Carly Nyst, legal director at Privacy International, told DW in an email.

"Given the public uproar over the mass surveillance programs revealed by Snowden, discussions such as these are blatant attempts by authorities to deflect attention away from themselves and their illegal spying operations," she added.

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Caroline Wilson Palow, Legal Officer, Privacy International said:

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Edin Omanovic, a surveillance technology specialist at Privacy International, says that the expansion of the control list represents progress, but that more work needs to be done to curtail access to such technologies.

“We have to think of ways for [governments] to enforce the controls,” he says. “It’s always going to be the case that some of these technologies are intangible and very easy to export, which presents unique enforcement challenges that conventional arms don’t.”

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But London officials close to the WA changes told Privacy International researcher Edin Omanovic it was the intention of WA participants to focus on tools such as the German made FinFisher spy tool to restrict only platforms marketed and used by law enforcement and governments for lawful interception.

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The reforms announced today, while positive in some respects, are completely inadequate to address the heart of the problem. Privacy International welcomes steps to minimise the data collected and retained on non-Americans, and the call to increase transparency around requests made to communications service providers.

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Privacy International Legal Office Caroline Wilson Palow offered this by way of comment:  “It is clear that mass surveillance programs like Tempora have a disproportionate impact on those who live outside the country, since foreigners’ phone calls, emails, or internet searches currently receive even fewer legal protections than the communications of those who reside in the UK. It is wrong and we argue illegal for the UK to discriminate without any reasonable basis between UK and non-UK nationals when spying on their communications.

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"Every country owes the same obligation to each individual whose communications pass through their territory: not to interfere with those communications, subject to permissible limitations established by law," Privacy International commented in a separate statement. "People who have had their communications intercepted, no matter their location or nationality, should be able to object to that interference in the courts and tribunals of the country that carried out the interception."

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Mike Rispoli, Communications Manager of Privacy International told PinkNews: ”Just because it is information that can be accessed, it is unjustifiable for this company to collect and share information without my consent. People make choices every day about what they share, to whom, and on what platforms. On one site, I may share my sexual orientation, but not my political beliefs. On another, maybe I’ll share the school I attended but not my home address. In the end, its about our choice and agency over what information we give out.

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The other signatories to the letter to the OGP, included: Privacy International, the Global Network Initiative, Oxfam International, the Centre for Law and Democracy, Indian political and social activist Aruna Roy, former journalist and Global Voices Online founder Rebecca MacKinnon, and Hong Kong In-Media.

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The organisations that have signed up include Oxfam, Privacy International and the Open Rights Group, and the individuals include Satbir Singh of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Indian social activist Aruna Roy.

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Privacy International's Edin Omanovic speaks with the Danish Broadcasting Association at Milipol 2013.

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Privacy International was cautious about the impact of the decision in Vienna, but was convinced this would make an impact on companies such as Britain’s Gamma International, which produces the FinFisher spying tool, and Italy’s Hacking Team, which offers competing technology.

Both have faced criticism after their code was uncovered in nations with poor human rights records.

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Research by Privacy International, an independent watchdog group focused on the proliferation of surveillance technology, has found more than 338 companies offering a total of 97 different technologies worldwide.

Selling such equipment is perfectly legal and these companies say the new technologies are part of the fabric of modern IT systems and help governments defeat terrorism and crime.

But human rights and privacy campaigners are concerned that oppressive regimes can use such technology to clamp down on critics and democracy advocates.

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According to Privacy International, ASD acted in a manner that violates the laws of the Commonwealth and is contrary to guidelines given to the agency.

The group pointed out that the intelligence agency’s Rules to Protect the Privacy of Australians were released on 2 October 2012 and include the following guidelines:

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Global privacy organisation Privacy International has filed a formal complaint with Australia’s Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security over a report that the Australian Signals Directorate had offered to hand over data on Australian citizens to foreign intelligence agencies.

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Faut-il associer l’exportation et la vente de logiciels espions à du matériel de guerre? Cette question, plusieurs parlementaires se la posent après avoir été alertés par Privacy International de la présence d’une antenne de Gamma International en Suisse. Gamma? Un groupe anglais, pointé du doigt par des organisations non gouvernementales (ONG) pour avoir vendu ses techniques de surveillance à des Etats ne respectant pas les droits de l’homme (Bahreïn notamment).

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