"The biggest problem which we've seen in the region is that the legislation is very weak with little to no judicial oversight," Michael Rispoli from Privacy International tells Wired.co.uk.
Compared to what we have recently learnt about US and UK services, European intelligence agencies still operate in total darkness, says Eric King, head of research at London-based Privacy International. "And I think that that in itself is a significant problem."
Privacy International, a London-based charity which is concerned about Dr Shehabi's safety and the sale of the Finfisher software to intolerant regimes, has now filed a complaint against British HM revenue & customs.
But whether they have any meaning is open for debate following the disclosures by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. That’s because the government has direct access to the internet and scoops up millions of communications annually.
“We are now aware of a terrifying reality — that governments don’t necessarily need intermediaries like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft to get our data. They can intercept it over undersea cables, through secret court orders, and through intelligence sharing,” Privacy International said in a statement.
Rights group Privacy International welcomed the publication but had wider concerns.
"Given Facebook's ever-growing presence in the lives of people around the world, we commend them for releasing this report today - a release that has been a long time coming," it said.
"However, we are left with a disturbingly hollow feeling regarding Facebook's gesture, and it has little to do with Facebook itself.
Privacy International weighed in on the release of Facebook’s first Global Government Requests Report with the following statement...
"The usefulness of transparency reports hinges on governments abiding by the rule of law. We now know that these reports only provide a limited picture of what is going on, and it is time that governments allow companies to speak more freely regarding the orders they receive."
Privacy International “commended” Facebook for the disclosure, which it said had been a “long time coming”, but noted that leaks from the US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden suggested that governments were collecting user data from telecoms networks and other means that may not require web companies’ co-operation.
“The usefulness of transparency reports hinges on governments abiding by the rule of law,” Privacy International said.
Privacy International, a U.K.-based privacy group, applauded Facebook for releasing the numbers, but said recent leaks about data collection at the U.S. National Security Agency show that these kinds of transparency reports have limited use.
While London privacy-rights organization Privacy International praised Facebook for releasing the data, it questioned whether such transparency reports are useful.
"We are left with a disturbingly hollow feeling regarding Facebook's gesture, and it has little to do with Facebook itself," the organization said.
The report was welcomed by Privacy International, but the human rights group said it was left feeling "disturbingly hollow" with regard to Facebook's gesture. The group said in a statement: "Since documents leaked by Edward Snowden have been published and analysed, the veil has been lifted on what information governments actually collect about us.
Transparency reports have traditionally played a critical role in informing the public on the lawful access requests made by governments to companies like Facebook. These reports have provided a useful accountability mechanism for users to know what governments are asking for and how often. Transparency reports also inform users as to what intermediaries are doing to protect their privacy when it comes to sharing data with governments.
Privacy International will soon be launching a research and advocacy project entitled Aiding Surveillance that will focus on the role of international development, humanitarian and funding organisations in promoting privacy and data protection. Click here to join our mailing list to find out more about this project and all of PI's activities.
The development agenda is heralding a new cure-all for humanitarian and development challenges – data.
The calculated detention, interrogation, and search of David Miranda brings into sharp relief the draconian legal frameworks that define security and policing in the United Kingdom. These events highlight not only the imperilled state of privacy rights and free expression in Britain, but the breakdown of the democratic institutions that should be protecting individuals not only from terrorists, but from unrestrained government power.
“Many surveillance technologies are created and deployed with legitimate aims in mind, however the deploying of IMSI catchers sniffing mobile phones en masse is neither proportionate nor necessary for the stated aims of identifying stolen phones,” Eric King of Privacy International told Ars.
Privacy International criticised the climate that had led to Jones's decision. "The closing of Groklaw demonstrates how central the right to privacy is to free expression. The mere threat of surveillance is enough to [make people] self-censor", it said in a statement.
Privacy International told PC Pro that Groklaw's closure was a "clear demonstration" of the chilling effect of undue surveillance. "The right to privacy is central to the democratic principles of the free flow of speech and ideas," said a spokesperson. "The mere threat of surveillance is enough for citizens to alter their behaviour and censor themselves."
Filed in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), the claim challenges Whitehall along with BT, Vodafone Cable, Verizon Business, Global Crossing, Level 3, Viatel and Interoute, who were all recently identified as collaborating with GCHQ's Tempora mass surveillance programme.
In particular, Privacy International asks the telcos to outline company policies for assessing the lawfulness of government requests, and describe any requests they received from authorities to intercept information, any steps taken to oppose or resist such orders, and the amount they have been paid for their cooperation with governments.
"By complying with government requests, companies are unlawfully participating in mass and indiscriminate surveillance and are in breach of Article 8,” said Privacy International.
Eric King, head of research at Privacy International, said Tempora's operation would "not have been possible without the complicity" of the named firms. "Despite the companies' obligation to respect human rights standards, particularly when governments seek to violate them, spy agencies are being allowed to conduct mass surveillance on their systems," King said.
Privacy International, which has already filed a complaint about the actions of the UK intelligence services, claimed the companies “colluded” with GCHQ and failed to protect customers’ right to privacy.
Lawyers for the group Privacy International, whose mission is to defend the right to privacy, have written to the chief executives of the telecoms companies identified last week by the German paper Süddeutsche and the Guardian as collaborating in GCHQ's Tempora program.
Some of the world's largest telecommunication companies are facing legal action for colluding with British spy agency GCHQ and failing to protect customers' privacy rights, Privacy International said in a letter issued to the cable providers.
For some time now there has been a need to update understandings of existing human rights law to reflect modern surveillance technologies and techniques.
Steve Hewlett presents a new series about how technology is reshaping notions of privacy. Privacy International Board Chair Anna Fielder joins Steve in this three-part series.
The data regulator began investigating the use of number plate recognition in the town after a complaint in June 2011 by three civil liberties groups: No CCTV, Big Brother Watch and Privacy International.
"Royston police decided to track everyone without any clear reason," said Privacy International executive director Gus Hosein.
"Just because a technology enables mass surveillance, that doesn't mean that it is right to do so."
The investigation carried out by the ICO stemmed from a joint complaint from privacy activist groups Big Brother Watch, Privacy International and No CCTV. The ICO found that Hertfordshire Constabulary failed to carry out "any effective impact assessments" before the system went live.
Complaints had been lodged by the Big Brother Watch, Privacy International and No CCTV, before the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) investigated the matter.
Since mid-2012 the Hebrew University International Human Rights Clinic has been collaborating with Privacy International to produce research about the state of privacy laws and protections in Israel and worldwide.
Last week marked the launch of a long-anticipated pilot of a controversial Israeli biometric database, a project that has been the target of civil society protest and the subject of a challenge in the Israeli Supreme Court.