The privacy watchdog organisation Privacy International has today filed simultaneous complaints with Data Protection and Privacy regulators in seventeen countries concerning recent revelations of secret disclosures of millions of records from the banking giant SWIFT to US intelligence agencies.
On June 22-23 2006 the New York Times ran a story uncovering an international financial surveillance programme run by the Bush Administration. In essence the Bush Administration is getting access to international transfer data and storing this in databases at the Treasury Department and/or CIA for access to investigate terrorist activity.
There are a number of inconsistencies in the accounts so far:
The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the legality of the DNA database, including the retroactive collection of profiles. This decision supports the DNA Identification Act of 1998 and sees the taking of DNA from those who are convicted of serious offences not so much as a search but more as an act that enables identification.
In the case R v Rodgers (2006), decided 4-3, the Court was asked to consider, amongst numerous other issues:
The Criminal Justice Act 2003 further widens the circumstances in which a non-intimate sample may be taken from an individual. The Act merely requires that in order to take a non-intimate sample without consent, a person is arrested for a recordable offence - a significant advancement on the requirement that the individual was charged with a recordable offence and one that will encompass countless more individuals.
The UK currently maintains the largest DNA Database in the world and is encouraging other governments to implement similar systems in their respective countries. Using international organisations such as Interpol, participant governments will be able to share and exchange the DNA profiles of their citizens subject to vague legislative provisions, such as 'the interests of crime detection and prevention'.
A campaign to eliminate the DNA profiles of 24,000 innocent juveniles from the database has been instigated by a Conservative Member of Parliament after a lengthy battle to remove the record of a concerned constituent’s son who was arrested as a result of misidentification. The National DNA Database currently holds the records of 750,000 juveniles – some of whom have been convicted of offences but many of whom were only charged, cautioned, questioned or were mere witnesses to incidents.
The most significant amendment of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (hereafter 'CJPA') is the amendment to the circumstances in which samples may be retained. The Act allows for retention of samples even where charges are dropped or the individual is cleared of the offence. It also allows for such samples to be used for (future) purposes related to the detection and prevention of crime, both in the UK and abroad.
The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 was the first serious expansion of the powers to take samples, particularly non-intimate samples – which included mouth swabs and saliva in addition to hair samples: both of which provide DNA information. Such samples could be taken without the consent of the individual if he is charged with a recordable offence, a significant advance on the earlier requirement that the individual is charged with a 'serious arrestable offence'.
Although DNA matching was first used to catch an offender in 1987, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 is instrumental in defining police treatment of suspects in the early stages of an investigation. Despite the fact that the Act has been amended on numerous occasions since its inception, analysis of the original legislation provides the starting point to map out the development and expansion of the circumstances in which samples containing DNA can be taken from individuals.
The European Parliament voted today to adopt a new directive allowing for the retention of data "generated by telephony, SMS and internet, but not the content of the information communicated". This data includes email addresses and location data from cell phones. The directive is highly controversial due to the impact it will have on the privacy of European Union citizens.
Privacy International has joined forces with dozens of other human rights and civil liberties organizations around the world to ask the European Parliament to reject a Directive that would seriously compromise personal freedom in the EU. Below is the text of the letter to Members of the European Parliament, and the pdf is also available.
In response to the London bombings in July 2005, the Justice and Home Affairs Council and the UK's Presidency of the EU are proposing a number of additional measures including a border registration programme that will mimic US-VISIT, and access to databases on immigrants that will mimic the failed MATRIX programme. The measures are discussed in 'next steps' for the EU (available on the Statewatch website).
‘Indymedia’ (IMC) describes itself as ‘a network of individuals, independent and alternative media activists and organisations, offering grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues.’ According to Indymedia, its content is widely read, with the transfer of over 3.2 terabytes of information a month, serving over 18 million page views a month.
The UK Presidency's first formal report, entitled 'Liberty and Security: Striking the Right Balance', was released today. It argues the case for new and expansive policies on communications surveillance, biometrics, travel surveillance, and CCTV. In fact, it promises to take UK policy failures to the European level.
The below letter was addresses to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Viviane Reding (Commissioner for Information Society and Media) and Franco Frattini (Vice President and Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security).
In a tipping of the hat to the Americans, the UK is set to establish the largest border surveillance programme to date. The new programme will involve the collection of biometrics on visitors to the UK, the generation of vast information stores on all Britons and visitors, and a profiling system to identify those worthy of further scrutiny.
This programme does not merely apply to combatting terrorism however; it is for use for general policing matters.
The French government is considering the implementation of a new project, Project INES (Identite National Electronique Securisee), which will involve a system very similar to the one proposed in the UK. The French are even using similar statements, such as 'international obligations', 'terrorism', and concern regarding 'identity theft'. The Forum for Civil Liberties on the Internet ("Le Forum des droits sur l'internet) was asked by then Minister of the Interior Dominique de Villepin to conduct a consultation round on the issue. On June 16 the Forum submitted its final report.
In an effort to reconcile its policy laundering tendencies with the lack of a national law on retention, the Government has succeeded in quietly implementing data retention into its Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) bill (now an Act).
This Bill itself was first introduced in December 2002, and made slow progress. It was introduced to the Seanad in February 2005, and in Committee stage, retention was introduced. The bill was passed shortly aftewards.
The Government Accounting Office of the US government reports that creating a new system to keep track of the locations of aliens or visitors to the US is of 'questionable' value. This report, required by the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002, reflects the challenges faced by INS when they were asked to identify the location of over 4000 individuals in the days after 11th September 2001.
In a move that mimics the U.S. fingerprinting policy under the VISIT programme, the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a regulation that would create a central database for all visa applicants fingerprints and photos. Regulation available on the Europa website.
We the undersigned are calling on you to reject the 'Draft Council Regulation on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States'. This is an unnecessary and rushed policy that will have hazardous effects on Europeans' right to privacy. This policy process requires additional oversight, and the eventual systems established will require significant controls and a strong legal framework to ensure that this is a proportionate response to the war on terrorism.
The London-based human rights watchdog Privacy International today attacked Justice Minister Donner's campaign on 'Wet op de uitgebreide identificatieplicht' as an "underhanded" attempt to convince innocent citizens to forego their legal rights.
Last year the organisation advised that the identity legislation would violate both the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child.
For the attention of Members and staff of the European Parliament,
I am writing to you on behalf of Privacy International, a London-based human rights group, to call on you to stop the implementation of biometric travel documents.
The Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia made a call for submissions on whether the USA PATRIOT Act could allow the U.S. authorities to gain access to Canadians' personal information, enabled through the outsourcing of Canadian public services to the United States. The Commission also called for comments on the implications for compliance with Canadian provincial privacy laws, and to see if anything could be done to eliminate or mitigate the risks.
In a number of reports released today, the UK government acknowledged that there has been an increase in stop and searches in the past year. According to the Home Office Stop and Search Team's Strategy Report, "Stop and search is a police power which, if used fairly and effectively, can play an important role in detecting and preventing crime and the fight against terrorism."
But they admit that the power is used increasingly in unfair ways:
The government has introduced draft legislation for a national identity card. The card system will cost at least £3 billion and is likely to become an essential part of life for everyone residing in the UK.
If the draft legislation is accepted by Parliament, everyone will be required to register for a card. Biometric scans of the face, fingers and eye will be taken. Personal details will be stored in a central database. A unique number will be issued that will become the basis for the matching of computer systems.
The global watchdog Privacy International has today simultaneously filed complaints against Google's controversial Gmail service with privacy regulators in sixteen countries.
The move creates Google's biggest challenge yet in the short but turbulent public debate over its new email service.
To the participants of the International Civil Aviation Organization 12th Session of the Facilitation Division,
We are writing to you on behalf of a wide range of human rights and civil liberties organizations to express our concerns regarding a number of decisions emerging from your conferences and their likely effects on privacy and civil liberties. We are particularly worried about your plans requiring passports and other travel documents to contain biometrics and remotely readable ‘contact-less integrated circuits’.
Privacy International is writing this Open Letter to Members of both Chambers of the Netherlands Parliament to express our deep concern over Justice Minister Donner's proposed 'Wet op de uitgebreide identificatieplicht'. We believe these requirements will violate the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.