The proliferation of private companies across the world developing, selling and exporting surveillance systems used to violate human rights and facilitate internal repression has been largely due to the lack of any meaningful regulation.
The following was a speech given by Carly Nyst, Head International Adovacy, at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, Geneva on 3 December
The internet and innovations in technologies have opened up previously unimagined possibilities for communication, expression, and empowerment. New technologies have become essential enablers of the enjoyment of human rights, from the right to education, to participation, to access to information. Today, the internet is not only a place where rights are exercised, it is in itself a guarantor of human rights.
The NSA's UK counterpart GCHQ faces even greater challenges under British and European human rights law. Advocacy group Privacy International has launched actions with the UK's investigatory powers tribunal and with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development against both GCHQ and seven telecoms companies working with it.
Human rights group Privacy International has asked for a formal investigation into whether the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) offered to dump Australian citizens' personal comms data into the lap of the Five Eyes surveillance coalition.
Privacy International has reacted swiftly to a report in the Guardian newspaper that is based on Edward Snowden's whistleblowing revelations
The recent revelations, made possible by NSA-whistleblower Edward Snowden, of the reach and scope of global surveillance practices have prompted a fundamental re- examination of the role of intelligence services in conducting coordinated cross-border surveillance.
Through the Aiding Privacy project, Privacy International is promoting the development of international standards around data protection in the humanitarian and development fields and working with relevant organisations to make this happen.
Privacy International today has filed a complaint with the Australian Inspector-General of Intelligence Security, calling for an immediate investigation into deeply troubling reports that the Australian intelligence services offered to violate the privacy rights of millions of citizens by handing
Activist group Privacy International has launched an ambitious project to track the spread of commercial surveillance, spying and tracking technology and the often secretive firms selling into the booming sector.
Compiled from a variety of sources over the last four years, the Surveillance Industry Index includes 1203 documents covering 338 firms, 97 surveillance systems, and 36 countries, including some from the U.S. and U.K.
The following is an excerpt from a Comment originally publihsed by The Guardian, written by Privacy International's Head of Research, Eric King:
Privacy International spokesman Mike Rispoli said: "What is frightening about the NSA's capabilities are that they collect massive amounts of information on everyone, including your political beliefs, contacts, relationships and internet histories.
"While these documents suggest this type of personal attacks are targeted in nature, do not forget that the NSA is conducting mass surveillance on the entire world and collecting a vast amount of information on nearly everyone."
In a letter to Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies last week, prominent London-based charity Privacy International expressed concern about the funding connections between the department and South African firm VASTech.
The annual report of the department’s support programme for industrial innovation shows that R1.3-million was granted to VASTech’s Zebra E128 software system in 2005. Responding to amaBhungane’s questions, the department confirmed that this project was completed in 2008.
“ L'approvazione della risoluzione non provocherà delle azioni concrete immediate, ma dal punto di vista normativo sarà una dichiarazione di principio forte, aiutando il fronte di chi combatte la sorveglianza globale. Inoltre permetterà di capire, anche a livello di singoli Stati, chi è disposto a sostenere gli Stati Uniti sulla strada del controllo di massa e chi invece si oppone”, commenta a Wired.it Carly Nyst di Privacy International.
We, and other privacy advocates, have criticised the poor provisions of the so-called Safe Harbour agreement, which allows free transfers of personal information from European countries to companies in the United States that have signed up and promise to abide by its Principles.
Let's be clear: private surveillance companies are not just selling a product. Companies do not merely pack their product into a box and put it in the post. More often than not, surveillance firms sell a consultancy service, one that actively provides pre-sale consultancy, installation of the product, and training on how to operate the technology. When the product breaks, companies often provide ongoing technical support, with some companies sending over of consultants for up to 18 months to provide in-depth support to agencies.
With the launch of the "Eyes Wide Open" project, Privacy International has put together a fact sheet about the secretive Five Eyes alliance. Consider this a guide to the secret surveillance alliance that has infiltrated every aspect of the modern global communications system.
For nearly 30 years, the UK's wiretapping laws have been the subject of annual reports. Since 2002, they are available around the web (for now), but earlier than that, it is a rabbit warren of possible locations.
In practice, the reports are solely available from the Parliamentary Archives if and only if you are a member of an institution which has paid for access. Requesting a copy from elsewhere sends you to this destination.
Privacy International said it had long suspected that members of Five Eyes have been playing "a game of jurisdictional arbitrage to sidestep domestic laws governing interception and collection of data".
"Secret agreements such as these must be placed under the microscope to ensure they are adequately protecting the rights of British citizens," said Eric King, the group's head of research.
The five rights groups — Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Access and Privacy International — said this provision will ensure that the issue stays on the front burner at the United Nations.
General Assembly Should Pass Strong Resolution on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age
(New York, November 21, 2013) – The United Nations General Assembly should approve a new resolution and make clear that indiscriminate surveillance is never consistent with the right to privacy, five human rights organizations said in a November 21, 2013 letter to members of the United Nations General Assembly.
The following is an excerpt from a blog post that originally was published by EJIL: Talk!, and is written by Carly Nyst, Head of International Advocacy at Privacy International:
Privacy International has released a collection of 1,203 documents on the private surveillance sector, detailing mass surveillance technologies capable of covertly collecting millions of emails, text messages, and phone calls on citizens around the world. The documents mention two companies known for selling Internet monitoring technology and unpublished software vulnerabilities to the U.S. National Security Agency.
Advocacy group Privacy International has put together an extensive report on the powerful surveillance technologies being sold by private companies. The findings, it says, are "downright scary" and show that private companies are capable of acquiring spying tools just as capable as what the NSA and GCHQ are using. The details have all been collected in a database called the Surveillance Industry Index, which details the offerings of over 300 companies from across the globe.
The anti-surveillance group Privacy International just published a massive store of documents related to private companies selling surveillance equipment on the global market, and the contents are unsettling. In total, there are 1,203 documents detailing 97 different surveillance technologies, including everything from sophisticated spy cameras to software that can intercept phone call data, text messages and emails—just like the NSA does. The companies are also marketing these things to some of the world's worst despots.
Stanley spoke as a new database revealed the number of private firms now selling spying tools and mass surveillance technologies. Some of the systems allow countries to snoop on millions of emails, text messages and phone calls.
The Surveillance Industry Index, which was compiled by Privacy International, has more than 1,200 brochures gathered from private trade fairs over the last four years. The events give firms a chance to tout powerful capabilities that are usually associated with government agencies such as GCHQ and its US counterpart, the National Security Agency.
Die Menschenrechtsorganisation Privacy International hat den Surveillance Industry Index (SII) veröffentlicht, eine Übersicht von Firmen, die Überwachungstechnologie anbieten. Zu sehen gibt es mehr als 1200 Dokumente von 338 Firmen in 36 Ländern, darunter auch Deutschland.
Vier Jahre haben die Aktivisten gebraucht, um die Übersicht zusammenzustellen. Sie bauen auf den von WikiLeaks veröffentlichten Spy Files auf, aber es sind auch 400 bisher unveröffentlichte Dokumente dabei; geholfen hat unter anderem die Omega Research Foundation.
Human rights groups are sounding alarms as Western firms sell mass surveillance technology in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, equipping governments and companies new capabilities to snoop on citizens.
Despite the public outcry over mass global surveillance being carried out by the NSA and the GCHQ, brought to light in May by US whistleblower Edward Snowden, the scandal has not prevented tech companies and countries from closing contracts on spy technology.
L'elenco delle compagnie, pubblicato da Privacy International dopo 4 anni di lavoro, include anche un azienda italiana, la Hacking Team, fondata nel 2003 e basata - si legge nel rapporto - a Milano. Il rapporto sottolinea che «la normativa italiana per l'esportazione non regola nello specifico queste tecnologie, quindi possono finire facilmente nelle mani sbagliate». La ditta italiana sarebbe in grado di fornire sistemi di intercettazione per i cellulari come iPhone, Blackberrie e quelli basati su Windows o Symbian.
The document trove, called the Surveillance Industry Index (SII) and released by Privacy International, and contains 1,203 documents from 338 companies in 36 countries, all of which detail surveillance technologies. Some advertised capabilities are astounding: A firm named Glimmerglass, which produces monitoring and repair equipment for undersea cables, touts in a brochure that its equipment enables "dynamic selection and distribution of signals for analysis and storage."