We all remember the characteristics of the people we went to school with. In primary school, George was excellent at Music; Michelle aced Science in high school; Julian did that odd combination of college courses and had a problem with authority. Well, there's a national database that records all this information and more. The National Pupil Database (NPD, previously the School Census) contains over 400 variables, covers every year of a child’s education from nursery to A-levels, and anyone who attended a state school in the past ten years is included - there is no opt out.
The UK Minister for Education, Michael Gove, today stated in Parliament that he would be moving forward his plans to open up the National Pupil Database, and announced a government consultation on the initiative. The Minister promised that "all requests to access extracts of data would go through a robust approval process and successful organisations would be subject to strict terms and conditions covering their handling and use of the data, including ha
On the surface, it’s all about protecting Russian kids from internet pedophiles. In reality, the Kremlin’s new “Single Register” of banned websites, which goes into effect today, will wind up blocking all kinds of online political speech. And, thanks to the spread of new internet-monitoring technologies, the Register could well become a tool for spying on millions of Russians.
Modern information and communications technologies are now seamlessly integrated into our daily lives. Internet-based communications are no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity, for people across the globe. This is particularly the case in developing countries where, as well as helping individuals communicate, learn and connect, technologies play a vital role in advancing fundamental human rights and fuelling social progress.
Today, travelling within many cities around the world comes at a cost: privacy.
Electronic ticketing systems are proliferating, but it’s not clear how much information they collect or what they do with it. Privacy International has written to 48 transport authorities and companies operating transport services across the world requesting this data.
From a smart phone police can tell where we have been, who we have been in contact with and what we are planning to do. As Eric King, head of research at Privacy International, points out: “There is more information on your phone than there would have been in the average home 20 years ago. But whereas the police still need a search warrant to enter a house, they can now grab all the data from your phone with no independent authorisation.”
Tuesday’s letter to Google CEO Larry Page, personally signed by 29 European data protection authorities, ordered the corporation (inter alia) to give users greater control over their personal information. The notions of trust and control are emphasised throughout the letter, and Google is urged to "…develop new tools to give users more control over their personal data" and "collect explicit consent for the combination of data for certain purposes".
Privacy International, Agentura.Ru, the Russian secret services watchdog, and Citizen Lab have joined forces to launch a new project entitled 'Russia’s Surveillance State'. The aims of the project are to undertake research and investigation into surveillance practices in Russia, including the trade in and use of surveillance technologies, and to publicise research and investigative findings to improve national and international awareness of surveillance and secrecy practices in Russia.
Greek newspaper To Vima reported late last night that Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panagiotaros has requested the exact data of "foreign infants and young children, by country of origin, who are in nursery schools" in Greece from the Greek Ministry of Interior (the equivalent of the British Home Office or US State Department). To Vima’s headline read 'Taking a leaf out of Herod’s book'.
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.
APEC privacy activity has passed another milestone with the acceptance in July 2012 of the USA as the first economy to formally join the cross border privacy rules (CBPR) system. The CBPR Joint Oversight Panel (JOP), with the Canadian chair of the Data Privacy Subgroup (DPS) standing in for the US member in accordance with the ‘no conflict of interest’ provisions, accepted the US government application, which nominated the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as the privacy enforcement authority and the FTC Act (15 USC 45) as the privacy law required by the CBPR protocols.
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."
Last Friday, the German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle added his voice to calls for tighter control of EU surveillance technology exports, bolstering the momentum of a growing pan-European movement.
Speaking in Berlin at an Internet and Human Rights conference hosted by the German Foreign Office, Westerwelle described the devastating effect that surveillance technology can have on fledgling democratic and civil rights movements:
On 25th January 2012, the European Commission published a proposal that would comprehensively reform the European data protection legal regime. One aspect of its proposal, a new Regulation (the “Proposed Regulation”),1 would modernise and further harmonise the data protection regime created by the Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC).
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.
On 25th January 2012, the European Commission published a proposal that would comprehensively reform the European data protection legal regime. One aspect of the proposal, a new Regulation (the “Proposed Regulation”),1 would modernise and further harmonise the data protection regime created by the Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC).
A year ago this week, the UK government published a report entitled 'Transparent Government, Not Transparent Citizens', authored by Dr Kieron O’Hara. It made fourteen recommendations, the most important of which seem not to have been implemented. Meanwhile, the government continues to release data on citizens, and is accelerating these disclosures with some ambitious new policies.
We welcome the Informational Commissioner's intention to produce guidance for data controllers around the production of Open Data. Rigorous guidance is sorely needed in this area, with even large Government departments getting it dangerously wrong. Some data can be released safely in some circumstances; depending on the type and there has been sufficient consideration of the nuance of the situation.
Privacy International has urged the Australian Parliament to ensure that rigorous legal and judicial safeguards are at the heart of future reforms to national security legislation.
In a letter sent earlier in August to Privacy International's lawyers Bhatt Murphy, a representative of the Treasury Solicitor stated:
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.
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.
Privacy Internationally has submitted two documents to the UK Parliament's Joint Committee reviewing the draft Communications Data Bill. The first submission is an implementation briefing based on our work for the Big Brother Incorporated project, establishing the capabilities and defects of existing surveillance technologies.
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.
The Home Office constantly insists that trafffic data is not about the content of the pages you look at, but about the sites you visit.
This would have made some sense in 1999 when RIPA was first being debated, but technology has moved on and new open data sources are now available. This allows for vastly more invasive tracking in 2012 than was envisaged in 2000. We’ve done a little bit of work on how…
The English Wikipedia contains 4 million articles, which contain 18 million links out to other websites.
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.
Last week the Rwandan government tightened its grip on citizens when the parliament's lower house adopted legislation that sanctions the widespread monitoring of email and telephone communications.1 The bill is now awaiting Senate approval.
Modern communications surveillance policy is about gaining access to modern communications. The problem is that the discourse around communications policy today is almost the same as it was when it was simply a question of gaining access to telephone communications. "Police need access to social network activity just as they have access to phone calls" is the politician's line. We use Facebook as an example here, but most internet services will be similar in complexity and legality.