Eric King, human rights and technology adviser for Privacy International in London, said companies shouldn’t be allowed to recklessly disregard the potential for harm. “The fact that there may be several degrees of separation between the original seller and the end user does not negate responsibility when products designed to facilitate blanket surveillance of a population are used for exactly that,” King said.
At the moment there is much anger about a UK Border Official who, according to the BBC, relaxed "identity checks on non-EU nationals" over the summer. This 'relaxation' then was claimed to have placed the UK at risk because names of visitors were not checked against 'watchlists'. This news is unsurprising in some respects, and quite shocking in others.
The controversy centres on the call to temporarily suspend checking the e-passports of individuals from outside of the EU.
However, the London based campaign group, Privacy International, said it wants Blue Coat, and its competitors, to face further scrutiny. "Companies that manufacture surveillance technologies that facilitate the scope and levels of intrusion that Blue Coat's does must be aware of the potential havoc their products can wreak," said the group's human rights and technology adviser, Eric King.
Eric King of Privacy International, a London-based nonprofit group that challenges government surveillance, said the company’s products can enable a government to monitor the Internet activity of large numbers of people... “Hundreds of Western companies are pitching these kinds of surveillance technologies to some of the most authoritarian regimes in the world, turning a blind eye to the ways in which these dangerous technologies are being used to monitor and oppress. Stricter regulation of this trade is desperately needed.”
Eric King, head of the Big Brother Inc project at Privacy International, a London-based group that tracks the use of surveillance equipment said: ‘In the wrong hands, Blue Coat technology can all too easily be used as a tool of political control. It gives governments the ability to spy on an entire population’s internet activity and to target dissidents, activists and political opponents with ease.’
Facebook's new "Download your Information" feature reveals a radically different interpretation of transparency to one that the rest of us in Europe might hold. The feature may be a promising start, but the company still clearly has difficulty understanding the requirements of European Data Protection law. The feature provides only a fraction of the personal information held by Facebook and is thus still in violation of law.
Prime Minister David Cameron may not be quite the “pitiless blank-eyed hell wraith” Charlie Brooker portrayed in yesterday’s Guardian, but he does have some pretty frightening ideas about the Internet.
Independent security researcher Trevor Eckhart revealed yesterday that a recent software update to some HTC smartphones has accidentally given third party applications access to huge amounts of private data, including call logs, geolocation history, SMS data and a whole lot more.
Privacy International today published documentation that establishes a deliberate cover-up by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) of a failure to uphold its responsibility to enforce the Data Protection Act.
The service claims that "the world-wide-web should be world-wide and not censored in anyway," after which it goes on to highlight its popularity among protesters in Egypt when the government blocked access to Twitter. As the group Privacy International noted on its blog, that sets them up as "supra-legal arbiters of morality" who can choose to cooperate with some government requests and not others.
The second 2011 meeting of the APEC Privacy Subgroup took place in San Francisco in mid September, and finalised the package of documents that comprise the Cross Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system. Endorsed by the parent Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG), these will now go forward for ratification by Ministers in Hawaii in November, and subsequent implementation. The Subgroup’s 2012 Work Plan envisages establishment of the Joint Oversight Panel (JoP), commencement of recognition of Accountability Agents (AAs), and facilitating participation by economies in the CBPR syste
The Internet is becoming essential to modern life in Pakistan. These days, the loss of network access, whether for telephones or internet connectivity, soon starts to affect people's ability to do business or interact socially - and in the longer term is directly affects citizens' self-expression and self-determination. This is why we all saw such serious attempts by the governments of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya to cut off their people's access to the Internet.
On the 2nd of August 2011 the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information has called on Facebook to delete the feature on the social networking site that automatically recognizes facial features and "tags" users when others upload photos of them. According to the local German data protection authority the feature is a violation of local and European data protection laws, and Facebook should adapt the feature to European data protection law or suspend the use of the facial recognition technology.
Few understand why we focus on refugee privacy. Funders don’t understand it so don’t fund it; the public see the plight of refugees as seen on TV, not as a privacy issue; and often times the international community does everything it can to increase scrutiny of refugees. In this blog, I highlight the privacy issues facing refugees and how these issues can jeopardize refugees’ safety as much as any of the environmental, social, or political risks refugees encounter.
Other human rights organisations often ask us what they should to when it comes to their infosec needs. Should they run their own mail server, or trust Gmail? Should they merge their calendars by email (!), a local server, or use some cloud solution?
PI just received a response from Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland of the Council of Europe (CoE) stating that the CoE is refusing to start an investigation on the collection and storage of citizens biometric data by member states. On 31 March an international alliance of organisations and individuals lodged a petition calling on him to start such an indepth survey under Article 52 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
An international alliance of organisations and individuals from 27 countries has lodged a petition calling on the Council of Europe to start an indepth survey on the collection and storage of biometric data by member states.
European governments are increasingly demanding storage of biometric data (fingerprints and facial scans) from individuals. These include storage on contactless 'RFID' chips in passports and/or ID cards. Some are going even further by implementing database storage e.g. France, Lithuania and the Netherlands.
2011 is supposed to be the year that the APEC pathfinder projects on Cross Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) deliver a functional system for businesses to be certified for transfer of personal information between participating APEC economies.
Skype has consistently assured that it protects its users and their communications. Having reviewed the company's technology and policies we have grounds for concern about Skype's overall level of security, and we believe there are a number of questions to which the company must respond. Skype's misleading security assurances continue to expose users around the world to unnecessary and dangerous risk. It's time for Skype to own up to the reality of its security and to take a leadership position in global communications.
Last week in DC I had lunch with an old colleague of ours, a CPO of company. We had a wide ranging discussion, but the most fascinating discussion was the term 'personally identifiable information', or 'PII'. In case you were wondering, privacy advocates do spend much of their time talking shop, and sometimes quite arcane issues arise -- but we're not entirely boring people.
Nigel Waters has previously represented Privacy International at APEC Data Privacy Subgroup meetings, on one occasion with PI having official guest status, otherwise indirectly through membership of the Australian delegation. On this occasion, expenses were paid by USAid for participation in the technical assistance seminar, and this allowed attendance at the other meetings.
Not since the 1990s has the internet been so exciting. With its use by political activists and journalists around the world, we can now again entertain the discussions that the internet brings freedom. Digital data traverses routers with little regard to national boundaries and so traditional constraints not longer apply. So it is no surprise that protestors on the streets of Tehran or Cairo are using the internet to organise.
For the past couple of months we have been discussing with Google their transparency plans regarding governments accessing data held by Google. Last week Google released initial data on how many requests for data were coming from which governments.
Last week the German Federal Constitutional Court overturned a law on the retention of telecommunications data for law enforcement purposes, stating that it posed a "grave intrusion" to personal privacy and must be revised. In their ruling the judges found that the law stands in contradiction to the basic right of private correspondence and does not protect the principle of proportionality, as it fails to balance the need to provide security with the right to privacy.
Privacy International and EPIC praised a vote today in the European Parliament today that rejected the transfer of finacial records to the United States under an interim agreement. A resolution to reject the deal passed 378-16, with 31 abstentions. Members of the parliament stated the proposed agreement lacked adequate privacy safeguards, and was a disproportionat response to US concerns about terrorism that also lacked reciprocity.
The Active Millimeter Wave body scanners that airport security officials plan to use in greater numbers after a failed attempt to explode a bomb in a plane over Detroit raise troubling questions about passenger privacy, and ultimately the technology’s utility as a security measure.
Following an extensive campaign by Privacy International and our network of groups in the United Kingdom, the UK Government has decided to abandon its current plans for data sharing legislation.
The government has announced that it will immediately abandon clause 152 of the Coroners and Justice Bill, following on from an open letter that Privacy International sent to the Justice Secretary earlier this week.
Many of Britain's leading professional bodies have joined Privacy International and colleague NGOs to call for the complete withdrawal of the controversial clause 152 data-sharing powers. An open letter signed by thirty organisations ranging from Liberty, to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, to the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association condemns the new powers as a dangerous threat to privacy, and has demanded the removal of the clause from the Coroners & Justice Bill. The text of the letter is below.
Dear Mr Straw,
At the request of the Civil Initiative on Internet Policy, a Kyrgyz public foundation, Privacy International participated in an international conference on Internet and Law in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
The event was organized in response to proposals for a new data retention law and content regulation of the Internet and was attended by government officials, journalists, legal experts, and representatives of the telecommunications industry.