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 The documents mention two companies known for selling Internet monitoring technology and unpublished software vulnerabilities to the U.S. National Security Agency.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."
The documents are included in an online database compiled by the research watchdog Privacy International, which has spent four years gathering 1,203 brochures and sales pitches used at conventions in Dubai, Prague, Brasilia, Washington, Kuala Lumpur, Paris and London. Analysts posed as potential buyers to gain access to the private fairs.
The database, called the Surveillance Industry Index, shows how firms from the UK, Israel, Germany, France and the US offer governments a range of systems that allow them to secretly hack into internet cables carrying email and phone traffic.
Privacy International (PI), a UK-based privacy rights group, recently wrote a letter to Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, regarding grants to the tune of R3.6-million provided to VASTech.
VASTech is one of the South African companies linked to to the so-called mass surveillance industry by WikiLeaks, which said VASTech’s Zebra system was used in Libya by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
Human rights organisation Privacy International (PI) has written to the South African government to ask why the Department of Trade and Industry used R3 563 506.45 of public money to fund the development of a telecoms surveillance tool capable of capturing up to 40 million minutes of voice calls a month, which was deployed by the Libyan regime under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
If you were a Middle Eastern tyrant or a Central Asian strongman, and you suddenly found your position of power under threat, where would turn for assistance? Well, Paris, it seems, is actually pretty good start.
Humanitarian agencies are collecting personal information for Syrians caught in the crossfire of a drawn-out and bloody civil war. Indeed, refugees fleeing persecution and conflict, need to access services and protection offered by the world’s humanitarian community. But in the rush to provide necessary aid to those afflicted by the crisis in Syria, humanitarian organisations are overlooking a human right that also needs protecting: the right to privacy.
On at least two separate occasions, the South African government has provided funding to a well-resourced surveillance company for the development of mass surveillance technologies, the very equipment found to be used by the Gaddafi's repressive military regime in Libya, according to documents uncovered by Privacy International.
Sam Smith, a technologist at Privacy International, said the unencrypted data could hypothetically relate to any of Microsoft's cloud services, from Hotmail and Outlook.com email accounts to Xbox Live, Office 365 and SkyDrive cloud storage.
This response seems unlikely to reassure Smith who commented, "Unless Microsoft takes immediate action to rectify this situation, any business or individual using their services to store or transmit sensitive data will have been fundamentally let down by a brand that suggested it was worthy of trust."
Earlier this year, The Washington Post claimed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had developed a method nine years ago to locate cellphones when they were powered down. The publication didn’t provide technical details on the software or hardware involved, leaving security researchers puzzled by the revelations. Seeking clarification on the technologies invoked, British privacy watchdog Privacy International conducted a survey of eight cellphone manufacturers in August to obtain details on how it would be possible to track a cellphone once it’s turned off.
The following is an excerpt from a Comment originally publihsed by The Guardian, written by Privacy International's Head of Advocacy, Carly Nyst:
From databases to mobile phone apps and SMS systems, GPS tracking and humanitarian drones to biometric registration, new technologies are rapidly becoming central to the delivery of humanitarian and development aid.
In a move that echoes strong action taken in the past by European officials to protect privacy, the Belgian and Dutch data protection authorities on Wednesday announced that they will begin an investigation into the security of the SWIFT financial system.
Anna Fielder of Privacy International also commented, saying that "Privacy and consumer advocates absolutely do not want data protection and data flows to be included in the TTIP negotiations; simply put, a trade agreement is not the best place to deal with such issues."
"The telecommunications companies can actually do an astonishing amount to push back against this sort of surveillance," Eric King, head of research at Privacy International, told DW. "It's plain that the Tempora program is almost certainly unlawful… Companies don't have an obligation to comply with unlawful requests, and should they wish to challenge them, they would be well within their rights to do so, and would likely be successful."
Today's hearing was built up in some media circles as an historic ‘public grilling’ of the heads of the UK’s Intelligence Agencies as Mi5, Mi6 and GCHQ appeared in public in front of their oversight committee, the Intelligence and Security Committee.
The heads of the main UK Intelligence Agencies are all giving evidence to Parliament today, on camera for the first time. The fact that this has as of yet not happened demonstrates how obsolete the UK’s oversight regime is. The UK political establishment revels in its historical traditions, but this can result in archaic proceedings, stuck in another century, refusing to move forward with the modern era. With a time delay (allegedly a few minutes, but possibly 20 years), we get to view the stream of the third debate in three weeks.
Though it is unsurprising that allied intelligence agencies cooperate and share information, the document did reveal a new facet of the relationship. "What we weren't previously aware of was the level of collusion when it comes to getting round surveillance law," Privacy International spokesman Mike Rispoli told DW. "We can't really be sure, but what we can infer is that when government officials discuss information sharing, they say, 'look at our laws here, look at what we're doing, look how lax our surveillance law is here, … you should get on board with this.' "