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Research Officer – job description and person specification

Are you looking to join a small charity that punches above its weight in holding governments and corporations to account? We are seeking creative and passionate people who are keen to work on meaningful projects at the cutting edge of human rights and technology.

The role of the Research Officer is to work with the Big Brother Incorporated project team to raise the profile and understanding of issues related to the export of surveillance technology in the UK and internationally. The Research Officer will be responsible for supporting the project’s legal and political objectives with high quality research and investigation.

The successful candidate will report to the Head of Research.

The successful candidate will be joining a small team of staff at one of the world’s leading privacy organizations. Privacy International was founded in 1990 and has active associates and networks in 47 countries. Our mission is to defend the right to privacy across the world, and to fight unlawful surveillance and other intrusions into private life by governments and corporations. The Big Brother Incorporated project investigates the international trade in surveillance technology, with a particular focus on the flow of products from Western countries to repressive regimes intent on using them as tools of political control. The project's objectives are:

  • To raise worldwide awareness of the dangers of surveillance technologies and the ethical failures of the surveillance industry.
  • To ensure that export controls are put in place in Europe and the US to restrict the sale of surveillance technologies to repressive regimes.
  • To seek redress for those who have suffered harm as a result of Western-manufactured surveillance technologies.

Please note that this position is for an initial one-year period, to be extended if deemed to be in the best interests of PI and if funding permits. The successful candidate will be based full-time in our London office.

Remuneration: £33,000 per annum.

Please note: Only applicants who have extensive experience and detailed knowledge of export laws and regulations, and who have previously worked on initiatives related to export laws will be considered for the role.

Roles and Responsibilities:

1.     Policy and Research

  • Create detailed policy proposals that include both technical criteria for new export controls and implementation guidelines for regulatory agencies including the development of a "surveillance annex" to be incorporated into dual-use export controls;
  • Produce research papers in support of the aims of the Big Brother Incorporated projected including specific papers on how:

o   specific surveillance technologies can be use to facilitate internal repression and human rights abuses;

o   Western foreign policy should support export controls on surveillance technology;

o   export controls on surveillance technology align with national security interests; and

o   US and European foreign and trade policy can help regulate China's surveillance exports.

2.     Investigation

  • Work with the Legal Officer to collect and document evidence to support litigation and advocacy efforts;
  • Research and catalogue the surveillance companies and their products as part of the "Surveillance Industry Index" project;
  • Attend arms fairs and surveillance trade shows collecting information on the companies and governments in attendance and the products being sold;
  • Conduct fact finding missions, including some in high-risk environments, to support understanding of how surveillance technology is being deployed and to gather evidence to support litigation and advocacy efforts;
  • Identify those targeted by surveillance technology and create outreach efforts to engage those activist communities who are likely to be targeted by surveillance;
  • Work directly with individuals who have been subjected to unlawful surveillance and consequent human rights violations in order to document their stories.

Person specification:


  • Detailed knowledge of export control law and policy
  • Law degree or equivalent, any jurisdiction.
  • Willingness to travel to Central Asia, Latin America and Africa, including to medium-risk/high-risk environments to conduct investigation
  • Demonstrable interest in technology and privacy issues.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.


  • Knowledge of the non-profit sector and general understanding of the key institutions in the human rights world.
  • Experience of working in international human rights law.
  • Experience of working with and in small teams.
  • Experience of giving presentations and delivering lectures to diverse audiences.


To apply, please send a CV and covering letter (not more than five sides of A4 combined) to by 6pm on Friday 31st May 2013. Interviews will be held in Central London on 10 and 11 June 2013. We are able to arrange video conference interviews with overseas candidates.

The deadline has been extended to 6pm Wednesday 5th June. Interviews will still be held on the 10 and 11th June.