The following is an excerpt from an article written that originally was published by IFEX, and is written by Carly Nyst, Head of International Advocacy at Privacy International:
The reality of the modern world is that governments – both of our own countries, and of foreign states – have greater capabilities to carry out invasive surveillance of citizens, no matter where they reside or what flag they pledge to. And caught in the cross-fire of the expanding surveillance state is freedom of expression, which is underpinned by the right to privacy.
Eric King, head of research at Privacy International, said there were real fears in the legal profession about confidentiality being breached by the security services following the NSA revelations. "We are astonishingly concerned about privileged communications being swept up as part of the mass surveillance programmes we have learned about over the past few months," he said.
Not everyone is convinced though. Facebook has gone to great pains to describe how it will be better for everyone if this function is ousted, and that this announcement is really just for the benefit of "the small percentage of people still using the setting". But Mike Rispoli, spokesperson for Privacy International, suggests it is undermining a large chunk of its userbase with that thinking.
Human rights group Privacy International told the Guardian that it makes Skype's previous claims look suspect. "The only people who lose are users," said Eric King, head of research at Privacy International. "Skype promoted itself as a fantastic tool for secure communications around the world, but quickly caved to government pressure and can no longer be trusted to protect user privacy."
"The only people who lose are users," says Eric King, head of research at human rights group Privacy International. "Skype promoted itself as a fantastic tool for secure communications around the world, but quickly caved to government pressure and can no longer be trusted to protect user privacy."
Eric King, head of research at Privacy International: "Our intelligence agencies carry out some of the most sensitive and legally complex work in the world. It is shameful that the agreements between the NSA and GCHQ are shrouded in secrecy and this practice must come to an end."
As if those in Pakistan did not have enough to worry about when it came to the security of their communications, recent changes to Pakistan’s anti-terror law could see people convicted for terrorism solely on the basis of incriminating text messages, phone calls, or email.
Eric King, head of research at Privacy International, said: "Andrew Parker is right: the UK isn't East Germany. While the Stasi had files on one in three East Germans, the communications of almost everybody in the UK are being intercepted and stored as part of GCHQ's Tempora programme. Our security agencies' continued insistence that they are not prying, while every week new mass surveillance programmes are being revealed, is offensive to the public's intelligence."
Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International, which also co-operated with the research, said: "Since 2008, more people are travelling with smartphones with far more data than back then, so there is more to spy on."
Mike Rispoli of the London-based, nonprofit organization Privacy International said that such a complaint could be a good thing, since it would raise awareness of the issue with data protection agencies.
"When Yahoo announced this, experts warned about and predicted serious security and privacy issues. Yahoo downplayed these risks, and ignored these critics, but now we see these concerns were legitimate," Rispoli said.
Update: This week we received a response to our letters when we called on the President of the Swiss Confederation, Ueli Maurer, and the Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, to step into the debate and refuse the licence applications for surveillance technology that are currently awaiting approval for export out of Switzerland. While their offices themselves did not reply to us, it is clear our message got through as the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) wrote to us on their behalf.
"Monsieur le président, je vous écris une lettre..." chantait Boris Vian dans sa chanson antimilitariste de 1954. Le 26 septembre, c'est une ONG qui milite pour la défense des droits de l'homme qui écrit une lettre à Ueli Maurer, conseiller fédéral. Privacy International interpelle le ministre de la Défense pour lui demander de ne pas accorder de licence à la multinationale Gamma qui tente d'exporter ses logiciels espions depuis la Suisse. L'ONG l'accuse de travailler pour des régimes autoritaires et de violer ainsi les droits de l'homme.
What a difference a few months, and some intelligence agency leaks, make.
The Zimbabwean government extended its reach into the private lives of its citizens this week by promulgating a new law establishing a central database of information about all mobile telephone users in the country.
"We have no set of rules for this yet – there is no convention on what happens and what can be done," Sam Smith from privacy-rights organisation Privacy International told me. "Can the police technically force you to unlock your phone if it’s fingerprinted? The police would argue that they can, but they don't get to unilaterally make the rules."
However, again there has been concerns about how this particular platform operates, with executive director of Privacy International Gus Hosein saying US-Visit “still has no clear understanding of how it’s supposed to work”, citing the decision to “collect fingerprints on the way in but not on the way out” as an example of the inconsistencies within the system.
"These problems were flagged by security and privacy experts a few months ago when Yahoo announced their intention to recycle old emails, and cautioned that Yahoo's plan created significant security and privacy risks. Yahoo downplayed these risks, and ignored critics, but now we see these concerns were legitimate," said Mike Rispoli, spokesman for Privacy International.
Les représentants de JONCTION, Privacy International, Electronic Frontier Fondation, Access, Human Rights Watch, Reporters sans frontières, l'Association pour le progrès des communications, et le Center for Democracy and Technology ont tous participé à l'événement.
On 29 November at the Universidad de San Andrés in Buenos Aires, Privacy International along with our local partners at Privacy LatAm will be hosting a conference, Data Protection in Latin America: The Next Decade. The program will cover government surveillance and data protection, focusing on data protection agencies in Latin America, international data flows and regulations in Latin America, the right to be forgotten, and cloud computing in the region.
But others think there's plenty to play for. Anna Fielder, chair of Privacy International, predicts the digital generation will lead a fightback using the net companies' own armoury. Until now, there hasn't been much money in counter-invasive technology, but she points out that 'privacy- enhancing technology' is now the hottest category in Silicon Valley venture capital circles. And some big net companies are cautiously beginning to talk up privacy to differentiate themselves from rivals.
The UK-based surveillance watchdog Privacy International called the defense ministry’s Gamma deal “deeply troubling,” in light of the military’s checkered human rights record and Gamma’s alleged track record of dealing with authoritarian regimes in Bahrain, Egypt and Turkmenistan.
His comments were dismissed by Eric King, head of research at Privacy International, who described Rifkind and his committee as part of the problem, not the solution.
Unternehmen wollen Spionage-Technik aus der Schweiz auch an Regime im Nahen Osten oder Zentralasien exportieren. Wegen eines Artikels unserer Zeitung schaltet sich nun die britische Nichtregierungsorganisation NGO Privacy International ein, die für die Freiheitsrechte kämpft. Sie warnt den Bund davor, die umstrittenen Exportgesuche zu bewilligen. Das schreibt die NGO in einem Brief an die Exportkontrolle im Staatssekretariat für Wirtschaft (Seco) und an die Mitglieder der aussen- und sicherheitspolitischen Kommissionen des Parlaments. Das Schreiben liegt auch unserer Zeitung vor.
With this in mind, a collection of civil society organisations, including Bolo Bhi, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Access, Article 19, Privacy International, Association for Progressive Communications, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders, presented the 13 Principles in a Human Rights Council side event today. The meeting was organized by the UN member States of Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Hungary.
Sam Smith, a technology adviser for campaigning organisation Privacy International, says: “I think patients are happy for their medical data from general patient records to be used by bona fide academic researchers in a university if they are asked.
However, he is concerned about the public’s lack of knowledge about NHS England’s plans for care.data: “It’s down to communication and the opt-out. Patients are entitled to opt out, but it’s being buried. NHS England, in the first place, did not want the opt-out at all.