Privacy International was cautious about the impact of the decision in Vienna, but was convinced this would make an impact on companies such as Britain’s Gamma International, which produces the FinFisher spying tool, and Italy’s Hacking Team, which offers competing technology.
Both have faced criticism after their code was uncovered in nations with poor human rights records.
Research by Privacy International, an independent watchdog group focused on the proliferation of surveillance technology, has found more than 338 companies offering a total of 97 different technologies worldwide.
Selling such equipment is perfectly legal and these companies say the new technologies are part of the fabric of modern IT systems and help governments defeat terrorism and crime.
But human rights and privacy campaigners are concerned that oppressive regimes can use such technology to clamp down on critics and democracy advocates.
According to Privacy International, ASD acted in a manner that violates the laws of the Commonwealth and is contrary to guidelines given to the agency.
The group pointed out that the intelligence agency’s Rules to Protect the Privacy of Australians were released on 2 October 2012 and include the following guidelines:
Global privacy organisation Privacy International has filed a formal complaint with Australia’s Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security over a report that the Australian Signals Directorate had offered to hand over data on Australian citizens to foreign intelligence agencies.
Faut-il associer l’exportation et la vente de logiciels espions à du matériel de guerre? Cette question, plusieurs parlementaires se la posent après avoir été alertés par Privacy International de la présence d’une antenne de Gamma International en Suisse. Gamma? Un groupe anglais, pointé du doigt par des organisations non gouvernementales (ONG) pour avoir vendu ses techniques de surveillance à des Etats ne respectant pas les droits de l’homme (Bahreïn notamment).
Last week, we learned that the National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of mobile phones where ever they are in the world. The report from of the Washington Post, shows the extraordinary scale and reach of the NSA programs that attempt to know everything about us including our location, at any time.
News that the United Nations is using drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) to collect information in the troubled east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) illustrates the growing use – and acceptance - of surveillance technologies in humanitarian operations.
What is the Wassenaar Arrangement?
The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies (the "Wassenaar Arrangement") is a multilateral export control regime in which 41 states participate.
After an initial discussion with technical and government experts involved in drafting and negotiating the new controls on “intrusion software”, some of our initial questions have been clarified. To read what they had to say, go here.
A strong, unified voice from the tech industry is absolutely essential to reforming the mass and intrusive surveillance programs being run by the Five Eyes, so we welcome today's statement from AOL, Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo.
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.