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Stream: Press releases

This is a resource of our latest press releases. To join our press mailing list, please email comms@privacy.org with your contact details. For up-to-the-minute privacy news, follow us on on Twitter @privacyint

Press release

Civil society organisations today called upon the members of the Human Rights Council to assess whether national surveillance laws and activities are in line with their international human rights obligations.

The Snowden revelations have confirmed that governments worldwide continue to expand their spying capabilities, at home and abroad. Widespread surveillance is being conducted in violation of individuals’ rights to privacy and free expression, and is seldom regulated by strong legal frameworks that respect human rights.

With this in mind, a coalition of civil society organisations today launched the “International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance,” a set of standards that interpret States’ human rights obligations in light of new technologies and surveillance capabilities. The Principles are endorsed by over 260 civil society organisations around the world, and for the first time set out an evaluative framework for assessing surveillance practices in the context of international human rights law.

Press release

Transparency reports have traditionally played a critical role in informing the public on the lawful access requests made by governments to companies like Facebook. These reports have provided a useful accountability mechanism for users to know what governments are asking for and how often. Transparency reports also inform users as to what intermediaries are doing to protect their privacy when it comes to sharing data with governments. Given Facebook's ever-growing presence in the lives of people around the world, we commend them for releasing this report today -- a release that has been a long time coming.

Press release

Some of the world's largest telecommunication companies are facing legal action for colluding with British spy agency GCHQ and failing to protect customers' privacy rights, Privacy International said in a letter issued to the cable providers.

Press release

In the wake of revelations that the UK Government is accessing wide-ranging intelligence information from the US and is conducting mass surveillance on citizens across the UK, Privacy International today commenced legal action against the Government, charging that the expansive spying regime is seemingly operated outside of the rule of law, lacks any accountability, and is neither necessary nor proportionate.

Press release

After challenging HMRC's blanket refusal to release information about the potentially unlawful export of Gamma International's FinFisher surveillance technology, the court has said that the case should proceed to trial and the grounds of Privacy International's challenge are of public importance.

Privacy International in February filed for judicial review of a decision of HMRC, the body responsible for enforcing export regulations, claiming the department is acting unlawfully in its refusal to provide any details regarding any investigation into Gamma’s export practices. By granting permission to proceed, the court has said that Privacy International's grounds are regarded as both arguable and raising points of public importance, in particular the points raised regarding HMRC's power to disclose information about investigations. The reference to public importance is of note, given that the court does not frequently include such wording.

Press release

A complaint filed with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) against Gamma International, a UK-based company accused of selling surveillance spyware for governments, will proceed and has been accepted for consideration, the UK National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD announced.

The decision by the NCP is instrumental in the ongoing campaign to hold surveillance companies accountable for their products and the potential enabling of governments to commit human rights abuses. Privacy International, with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Watch and Reporters without Borders, filed formal complaints in February against Gamma International in the UK and Trovicor in Germany, arguing that Gamma and Trovicor breached a nearly a dozen recommendations from the OECD Guidelines, all of which concern human rights.

Press release

Privacy International have filed an application for judicial review of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) refusal to release information about the potentially unlawful export of Gamma International's FinFisher surveillance technology.

HMRC has categorically refused to provide any details regarding any investigation into Gamma’s export practices, arguing it is statutorily barred from releasing information to victims or complainants. The law enforcement agency denies that it has any obligation to be transparent about any activities relating to the potentially illegal exports of British surveillance technology by Gamma International. 

Press release

A European privacy group claimed today that dozens of amendments to the new Data Protection Regulation being proposed by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are being copied word-for-word from corporate lobby papers, with MEPs frequently failing to even remember their own amendments. Max Schrems, of the website and campaign Europe v Facebook, noticed striking similarities between proposed amendments and lobby papers written by representatives of Amazon, eBay, the American Chamber of Commerce and the European Banking Federation.

Press release

Privacy International, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Watch and Reporters without Borders filed formal complaints with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in the UK and Germany against two surveillance companies on Friday 1st February. The British and German National Contact Points are being asked to investigate Gamma International and Trovicor respectively with regards to both companies’ potential complicity in serious human rights abuses in Bahrain

Press release

Google's latest Transparency Report, released at 3pm GMT this afternoon, shows that requests by European governments for the browsing history, email communications, documents and IP addresses of Google's users have skyrocketed since the Transparency Report was launched three years ago. Countries in the European Union made 7,254 requests about 9,240 users or accounts between July and December 2012, averaging over 1,200 requests a month. This represents over a third of all requests made by governments worldwide in this time period, and a 100% increase over the past three years. Overall, government requests to Google have increased by 70% in the past three years.

The figures also suggest that Google is denying a very high proportion of requests for user data from European countries. Italy, France, Spain and Germany all had less than half of their requests fully or partially fulfilled, suggesting that over 50% were disproportionately broad in scope, unlawful or submitted incorrectly. Just 17% of user data requests from the Polish government were fulfilled.

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