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  • Human rights organisations file formal complaints against surveillance firms Gamma International and Trovicor with British and German governments | Privacy International
    surveillance products and services provided by Gamma International and Trovicor have been instrumental in multiple human rights abuses in Bahrain including arbitrary detention and torture as well as violations of the right to privacy freedom of expression and freedom of association They allege that there is evidence that information gathered from intercepted phone and internet communications may have been used to systematically detain and torture political dissidents and activists and to extort confessions from them If the allegations are upheld the companies are likely to be found to be in breach of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises recommendations addressed by governments to multinational enterprises that set out principles and standards for responsible business conduct The UK s NCP is based at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the German NCP is based at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology If the NCPs accept the complaints against Gamma and Trovicor they will then investigate the extent of the defendants complicity in human rights abuses in Bahrain mediate between complainants and defendants issue final statements on whether OECD Guidelines have in fact been breached provide recommendations to the defendants on how to avoid further breaches and follow up in order to ensure that they comply with those recommendations Eric King Head of Research at Privacy International said The failure of governments to properly control exports of surveillance technology has left companies like Gamma and Trovicor regulated exclusively by their own moral compasses Unfortunately these compasses seem to have malfunctioned and directed companies towards some of the most dangerous and repressive regimes in the world We very much hope the OECD process will persuade Gamma and Trovicor to take a long hard look at their current and future clients and to think carefully about the role their products play

    Original URL path: https://privacyinternational.org/node/513 (2016-04-27)
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  • Google Transparency Report for second half of 2012 shows European government attempts to access private data at an all-time high | Privacy International
    requests by European governments for the browsing history email communications documents and IP addresses of Google s users have skyrocketed since the Transparency Report was launched three years ago Countries in the European Union made 7 254 requests about 9 240 users or accounts between July and December 2012 averaging over 1 200 requests a month This represents over a third of all requests made by governments worldwide in this time period and a 100 increase over the past three years Overall government requests to Google have increased by 70 in the past three years The figures also suggest that Google is denying a very high proportion of requests for user data from European countries Italy France Spain and Germany all had less than half of their requests fully or partially fulfilled suggesting that over 50 were disproportionately broad in scope unlawful or submitted incorrectly Just 17 of user data requests from the Polish government were fulfilled Carly Nyst Privacy International s Head of International Advocacy said The information we hand over to companies like Google paints a detailed picture of who we are from our political and religious views to our friendships associations and locations This information therefore merits the highest degree of privacy and security and should only be accessed by third parties under exceptional circumstances Governments must stop treating the user data held by corporations as a treasure trove of information they can mine whenever they please with little or no judicial authorisation Google s Transparency Report is a welcome example of slowly improving corporate accountability in this area but should also serve to remind individuals that any information they hand over to companies like Google Facebook and Twitter is highly vulnerable to government intrusion The alarming statistics in this latest Transparency Report serve as a reminder

    Original URL path: https://privacyinternational.org/node/514 (2016-04-27)
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  • British government welcomes Foreign Affairs Committee recommendation to control exports of surveillance and censorship technology | Privacy International
    of expression on the internet He added that the government was committed to working with international partners through the mechanism of the Wassenaar Arrangement in order to agree a specific control list of goods software and technology and that this work would continue into 2013 Since the Arab Spring of 2011 there has been steadily increasing international momentum for greater oversight of the largely unregulated surveillance and censorship technology industry In March 2012 the EU banned all exports of equipment and software intended for use in the monitoring or interception of internet and telephone communications by the Iranian authorities In July of the same year French State Secretary for the Digital Economy Fleur Pellerin announced her opposition to exports of surveillance technology to repressive regimes during a radio show hosted by Le Monde and public broadcaster FranceCulture Two months later in a speech delivered at the Internet and Human Rights conference hosted by the German Federal Foreign Office Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said These regimes must not be given the technical means to spy on and harass their citizens In October 2012 the European Parliament endorsed amendments to EU dual use export regulations proposed by Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake specifically

    Original URL path: https://privacyinternational.org/node/515 (2016-04-27)
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  • Privacy International calls on HMRC to investigate Gamma International’s potential breach of UK export laws | Privacy International
    rights records On Friday 9th November Privacy International s Eric King wrote to HMRC with a 186 page dossier of evidence against Gamma HMRC is the body responsible for enforcing export regulations and policies set by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills BIS and has the power to bring criminal proceedings against companies that disregard these rules BIS confirmed to Privacy International that products in Gamma s FinSpy suite of hacking software do fall within the scope of the UK s export control regime in September 2012 They informed the company of this fact on 2nd August 2012 Despite the fact that FinSpy has been on the market for six years and that companies are legally obliged to request export licence classifications Gamma had only submitted a Control List Classification enquiry CLC asking the government whether or not they needed export licences for the product in July 2012 Gamma is now required by law to apply for country specific licences in order to sell to customers outside the EU However in the same letter BIS stated that they have received no applications from Gamma for any such export licences Yet the company is known to have exported FinSpy and similar products to countries with dismal human rights such as Bahrain and Turkmenistan where this sophisticated software may be used to target dissidents for harassment arrest and even torture Privacy International s letter alerts HMRC to this potentially criminal breach of the export control regime and calls for an urgent investigation into Gamma International s export practices The accompanying dossier of evidence compiled by PI demonstrates the scale and scope of Gamma International s trade with oppressive governments overseas Eric King Privacy International s Head of Research said We welcomed BIS s acknowledgement that exports of Gamma International s FinSpy

    Original URL path: https://privacyinternational.org/node/516 (2016-04-27)
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  • Privacy International commences legal action against British government for failure to control exports of surveillance technologies | Privacy International
    being targeted by increasingly sophisticated state surveillance much of it supplied by British companies Secret police in three continents are currently using British technology to enter victims computers and mobile devices commandeer the cameras and microphones for surveillance monitor all email instant messenger and voice call activity including Skype and transform mobile phones into location tracking devices Text messages and call records retrieved in this way have been presented to victims during subsequent torturous interrogations The use of British technologies by dictators and repressive regimes in the developing world has been common knowledge since April 2011 when the Guardian reported that Egyptian dissidents had found a proposal document from Hampshire based Gamma International in the ransacked headquarters of Mubarak s secret police service The product Gamma was pitching to Egypt was the FinFisher suite a range of malicious software that infects a computer or mobile device using a fake update from what appears to be a legitimate source like iTunes Blackberry or Adobe Flash There is also evidence that this technology has been deployed in Turkmenistan a one party state that Human Rights Watch labelled one of the world s most repressive countries in March 2012 Under the Export Control Act 2002 the British government has the power to restrict exports of goods or technical assistance capable of facilitating internal repression or breaches of human rights However it has repeatedly chosen not to exercise these powers Privacy International has given the government 21 days to respond If the government has failed to act by the time this deadline expires Privacy International will file for judicial review and if appropriate seek an urgent injunction preventing British companies from maintaining and updating systems already previously sold to repressive regimes and stopping any new exports in their tracks Eric King Head of Research

    Original URL path: https://privacyinternational.org/node/517 (2016-04-27)
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  • PI founder Simon Davies to assess data protection reforms for the European Parliament | Privacy International
    the proposals by an EU wide expert group currently being put together The input for the assessment will be multi stakeholder in nature though the focus of the report will be on legal issues The EP has asked Mr Davies to present the assessment s findings to the joint meeting of EU national parliaments and the European Parliament in October In their letter of 17th July authorising the assessment Jan Philipp Albrecht MEP rapporteur for data protection regulation and Dimitrios Droutsas MEP rapporteur for the Data Protection Directive wrote that while they broadly welcomed the Commission s proposals they believed that the process of consideration of these proposals would benefit greatly from an external multi stakeholder expert input It would be most beneficial for the report to focus on legal and legislative aspects of the recommendations but we do not wish to otherwise constrain its parameters We would however ask the process to be multi stakeholder in nature and to whatever extent possible involve experts from across the EU Mr Davies said the assessment would be a massive task but that the report would provide a remarkable opportunity to improve the entire reform process and the potential to help achieve

    Original URL path: https://privacyinternational.org/node/518 (2016-04-27)
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  • Draft Communications Bill reveals Home Office's mass surveillance plans going ahead - but government remains tongue-tied about how technology will actually work | Privacy International
    network providers in Britain to install black boxes in order to collect and store information on everyone s internet and phone activity and give the police the ability to self authorise access to this information However the Home Office failed to explain whether or not companies like Facebook Google and Twitter will be brought under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act RIPA and how they intend to deal with HTTPS encryption Faith in the integrity of HTTPS encryption is what makes online banking and the entire e commerce industry possible and Google uses it to secure its Gmail service as do most webmail providers The need for easy access to Gmail has been one of the Home Office s primary justifications for the Communications Bill but technology experts are dubious as to whether it is possible to technically and lawfully break HTTPS on a nationwide scale At this morning s Home Office briefing Director of the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism Charles Farr was asked about how the black box technology would handle HTTPS encryption His only response was It will At a press and MP briefing at Parliament today Julian Huppert MP said that he couldn t believe the bill could even be put before the House in its current form David Davis MP remarked that given that the RIPA process is already a disgrace the Home Office should be introducing a bill that introduces warrant requirements to RIPA rather than making it even easier for the police to access citizens communications data He also revealed that David Maclean the most right wing politician the Home Office ever saw will be chairing the committee on the bill Dr Gus Hosein Executive Director of Privacy International said In the UK we ve historically operated under the presumption that the

    Original URL path: https://privacyinternational.org/node/519 (2016-04-27)
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  • Leaked Liberal Democrat internal briefing on new government surveillance plans reveals MPs being misled on key issues | Privacy International
    ways in which the Coalition government has improved matters since coming to power It also includes a Q A which asks Didn t you oppose this very policy in opposition The suggested answer is No what we opposed was Labour s draconian plan to introduce a centralised database of all communications data that the Government would be able to access at will In fact the Labour government abandoned the idea of a centralised database long before the Interception Modernisation Programme was formally proposed in 2009 their final plan was technically almost identical to the system proposed by the CCDP Under both plans police could self authorise to access information stored by communications providers and it would not be within the power of companies to refuse requests Other fudges errors and prevarications include The briefing states There will be no weakening of current safeguards and checks in place to protect communications data Yet the power of ISPs to contest requests for data will be removed Google currently complies fully or partially with just 63 of government requests The Liberal Democrat Policy Position is to call for a number of privacy protecting safeguards including ensuring that there shall be no interception of telephone calls SMS messages social media internet or any other communications without named specific and time limited warrants The briefing states We believe these safeguards to be in place already with the current proposal and will not support any legislative changes without these measures In fact the whole point of the CCDP is to facilitate the interception of communications streams in order to obtain traffic data without the requirement of ministerial or judicial warrants Under the Q A section MPs are given an example of this data being used effectively to fight crime the example is that of a paedophile

    Original URL path: https://privacyinternational.org/node/520 (2016-04-27)
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