"With each passing day, the public finds out more and more how private companies are colluding with governments to operate mass surveillance programs that intercept our daily phone calls, text messages, emails and personal data," said Eric King, head of research at Privacy International.
"Far from being coerced, it appears some of the companies have gone well beyond their legal responsibility by colluding with GCHQ on its Tempora [data collection] programme.
Six global telecommunications companies - British Telecom, Interoute, Level Three, Verizon Enterprise, Viatel and Vodafone Cable - are the subject of a formal complaint by Privacy International for potential violation of human rights such as the right to privacy and freedom of expression.
“We call on these companies to do the right thing and halt their involvement with mass surveillance and hope the OECD will investigate what steps, if any, the companies took to defend the human rights of their customers," said King.
Privacy International is challenging ISPs BT and Vodafone and other companies in the telecommunications industry, including Viatel, Verizon and Level 3.
It has also tried to take the UK government in front of a legal tribunal (PDF) to ascertain whether it has acted outside the law, and has filed a claim with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT).
Privacy International has filed complaints against U.K. telecommunications companies for assisting British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) with mass interception of telephone and Internet traffic that passes through undersea fiber optic cables.
The formal complaints were filed with the U.K. office of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which publishes guidelines for responsible business conduct followed by 44 governments including the U.K.
Privacy International argued that while tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo have been able to prove their resistance to government access requests, BT, Level 3 and the other companies appear to have rolled over under pressure.
"With each passing day, the public finds out more and more how private companies are colluding with governments to operate mass surveillance programs that intercept our daily phone calls, text messages, emails, and personal data," said the group's head of research, Eric King.
The group believes the companies may have violated a number of OECD guidelines on human rights, including the right to privacy and freedom of expression, by giving GCHQ access to their fibre-optic cables. It had already written to the providers, but received no response.
Privacy International now wants a formal investigation, and for the companies to come clean about how they collaborated with GCHQ on snooping programmes, like the cable tapping Tempora project.
Yesterday Privacy International filed complaints with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) against some of the world's leading telecommunication companies for providing assistance to GCHQ's Tempora programme. The group believes up to a dozen OECD guidelines, relating to companies' responsibilities to respect human rights, including the right to privacy and freedom of expression, may have been violated.
“With each passing day, the public finds out more and more how private companies are colluding with governments to operate mass surveillance programs that intercept our daily phone calls, text messages, e-mails, and personal data,” said Eric King of Privacy International in a statement.
Privacy International Chair Anna Fielder speaks with BBC Newsnight about Tesco's plans to implement face-scanning technology in their stores.
Privacy International today has filed formal complaints with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in the UK against some of the world’s leading telecommunication companies, for providing assistance to British spy agency GCHQ in the mass interception of internet and telephone traffic passing through undersea fibre optic cables.
Privacy International welcomes the resolution introduced on Friday by Germany and Brazil to the UN General Assembly, affirming the international human right to privacy and its essential nature to the realization of other rights, and condemning mass State surveillance of individuals around the world.
As anticipated, the Snowden revelations – first referred to in the opening session as the “elephant in the room” – soon became the central focus of many of the 150 workshops that took place during the 8th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Bali, and dominated the bilateral meetings that took place between governments, the private sector, the tech community, and civil society.
The following is an excerpt from a guest article which appeared on openDemocracy, written by Privacy International's Research Officer, Anna Crowe:
Humanitarian actors often forsake the right to privacy in favour of promoting programmes utilising phones to deliver services, either through a lack of understanding or wilful ignorance as to the risks involved.
Just search for the term "surveillance state" and you’ll pull up various uses of the term or news articles citing the phrase.
In some respects, this newfound concern can’t be a surprise; given vast new amounts of information in the public sphere since the Edward Snowden leaks began in June. However, it is critical to nail down the exact meaning of the term, so as the public and governments have the debate over State spying, we can actually know what we're talking about. Most importantly, this will help us push back against it.
For the first time since the Snowden revelations exposed the vast reach and scope of Britain's surveillance and intelligence activities, Parliament will openly debate the need for greater oversight of the intelligence and security services.
Alexandrine Pirlot of Privacy International said big data can be discriminatory and exclusionary. “The data collected is from people who are active on the Internet but it excludes the ones that don’t take part in these activities, whose behavior, decisions and needs are completely excluded from decision-making processes in big data programs,” she said.
Gus Hosein, executive director of London-based Privacy International, an advocacy group campaigning for privacy rights, told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 18 that the court had “narrowly interpreted” EU law, and there was potential for challenges against the taking of fingerprints for inclusion in passports to be brought before the European Court of Human Rights. The court ruling was the “perpetuation of a stupid mistake” made by the European Parliament when it approved the collection of fingerprints for passports, Hosein said.
Gus Hosein of the Privacy International campaign group says the revelations about Merkel’s mobile have made tougher restrictions on transatlantic data flows more likely. “Now that the heads of state from across Europe are targets for the National Security Agency, they’re going to start taking this matter a hell of a lot more seriously,” Hosein says.
When a product line becomes engulfed in controversy, the PR team's first move is to distance the corporation from the damage. The surveillance market is not immune to this approach, so when companies products are found to be in use by repressive regimes, the decision many boards make is simply to sell off that technology. This increasingly repetitive narrative is failing to solve any of the problems inherent with the sale of surveillance technology and in fact, is creating more.
Today’s much-anticipated launch of the 2013 Aid Transparency Index, an industry standard for assessing transparency among major aid donors, shows that, despite progress, many aid agencies continue to maintain secrecy around what they are funding.
*Update: The European Parliament has voted to recommend suspension of its Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) agreement with the US. The vote in favour of suspension only highlights how the NSA’s reported activities have undermined the agreement.
In our ongoing campaign to prevent the sale of surveillance technologies to repressive regimes, Privacy International today has filed a complaint with the South African body responsible for arms controls, asking for an investigation into South Africa-based surveillance company VASTech for the potential illegal export its technology to Libya.
At the first major discussions on internet governance since the Snowden leaks began in June 2013, Sweden’s Foreign Minister has called for the establishment of principles to define the application of existing human rights obligations to the digital realm.
The European Parliament Committee that deals with civil liberties and justice issues will have a first vote this week on the revised European data protection framework after months and months of deliberations and negotiations over more than 4,000 amendments. The vote is the first on the framework, which will decide the future of privacy and data protection in Europe. The recent revelations surrounding government surveillance involving some of the Internet's biggest companies have highlighted the urgency of an update of Europe's privacy rules.
Under Britain's Regulatory and Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) of 2000, the government does have broad powers to conduct digital surveillance. However, many believe that this wholesale data sharing is outside the scope of targeted warrants as described under RIPA. In July 2013, Privacy International, a London-based advocacy group, sued the British government for alleged abuses under the law.
Privacy International said Rifkind did not appear to be carrying out an independent review. “The credibility of the ISC will continue to decline while the chair of the committee, Sir Malcom Rifkind, acts as the government’s first line of defence, rather than objectively scrutinizing the facts,” said Eric King, head of research at Privacy International.
Nineteen civil rights groups have banded together to press the European Parliament into a privacy protection vote on Monday at the "Civil Liberties" committee (LIBE). The group includes just about every well known group in the privacy protecting portfolio, and European Digital Rights (EDRi) is found rubbing shoulders with the Chaos Computer Club, Privacy International and Big Brother Watch.
Le fait que ces bases de données existent ouvre les possibilités qu’elles puissent être utilisées de manière illégale, si la finalité de leur utilisation n’était pas celle spécifiée au moment de leur prise » a indiqué Alexandrine Pirlot de Corbion de Privacy international, fondé en 1990.
A sizeable political controversy has engulfed President Goodluck Jonathan’s Government in Nigeria, where details surrounding its plans for the total surveillance of Africa’s most populous country continue to emerge.