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.
After heated negotiations, the draft resolution on digital privacy initiated by Brazil and Germany emerged on November 21 relatively undamaged, despite efforts by the United States and other members of the Five Eyes group to weaken its
language. Although a compromise avoided naming mass extraterritorial surveillance explicitly as a human rights violation, the resolution directs the UN high commissioner for human rights to report to the Human Rights Council and the
General Assembly on the protection and promotion of privacy in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance... including on a mass scale. The resolution will ensure that this issue stays on the front burner at the UN. A vote
on the resolution is expected in the next week.
The resolution would be the first major statement by the UN on privacy in 25 years, crucially reiterating the importance of protecting privacy and free expression in the face of technological advancements and encroaching state power.
We are deeply concerned that the countries representing the Five Eyes surveillance alliance -- the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom -- have sought to weaken the resolution at the risk of undercutting
their own longstanding public commitment to privacy and free expression, the groups said in their letter:
To All Member States of the United Nations General Assembly
The right to privacy is central to who we are as humans and is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It protects us from unwarranted intrusions into our daily lives,
allows us to speak freely without fear of retribution, and helps keep our personal information, including health records, political affiliations, sexual orientation, and familial histories, safe. Indiscriminate mass surveillance, which tramples
individuals' right to privacy and undermines the social contract we all have with the State, must come to end immediately.
That is why we welcome efforts at the United Nations to adopt a
resolution on "The right to privacy in the digital age." Should it be adopted, the resolution, introduced by Brazil and Germany, would be the first major statement by the UN on privacy in 25 years. A strong resolution would
crucially reiterate the importance of protecting privacy and free expression in the face of technological advancements and encroaching State power. It would also build on the strong stance taken by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi
Pillay, and the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, in recent months, as well as the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, an initiative supported by 300
organizations from around the world.
As negotiations continue on this draft resolution, we are deeply concerned that the countries representing the "Five Eyes" surveillance alliance--the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom--have sought to
weaken the resolution at the risk of undercutting their own longstanding public commitment to privacy and free expression. In discussion of the draft resolution, we urge these countries and the entire General Assembly to protect the right to
privacy and take into account these basic points:
Privacy is intrinsically linked to freedom of expression and many other rights:
The mere existence of domestic legislation is not all that is required to make surveillance lawful under international law;
Indiscriminate mass surveillance is never legitimate as intrusions on privacy must always be genuinely necessary and proportionate;
When States conduct extraterritorial surveillance, thereby exerting control over the privacy and rights of persons, they have obligations to respect privacy and related rights beyond the limits of their own borders;
Privacy is also interfered with even when metadata and other third party communications are intercepted and collected.
We call upon all States meeting at the UN General Assembly this week to take a stand against indiscriminate mass surveillance, interception and data collection, both at home and abroad; to support the draft resolution, and to uphold the right of
all individuals to use information and communication technologies such as the internet without fear of unwarranted interference.
This is a critical moment for the protection of privacy around the world.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Human Rights Watch
Google has been ordered by a French court to remove links to images of Max Mosley with prostitutes.
Google said the ruling should worry all those who defend freedom of expression on the internet . It intends to appeal.
Mosley successfully sued the UK's now-defunct News of the World after it ran a story in 2008 claiming he had organised an orgy with Nazi overtones. He won damages for breach of privacy. The News of the World secretly filmed the former Formula One
chief with five prostitutes and published a front-page story.
Mosley said Google had agreed to remove links to material from the story on a case-by-case basis. But he claimed that when he had asked the firm to re-programme its technology to ensure it did not show up at all in searches about him it had
refused as a matter of principle even though it was technically feasible .
Max Mosley was famously the victim of a spectacular 2008 sting by News of the World which posted photos and video of him participating in a sadomasochistic sex party that the paper described as a sick Nazi orgy with hookers.
The High Court ruled that there was no evidence that the sex party had been intended to be an enactment of Nazi behavior or adoption of any of its attitudes. It also found that there had been no public interest or other
justification for the clandestine recording.
The court ordered News of the World to remove the material in question from its Web site, naturally, and there the story might have ended. Except, of course, that the photos and video continue to live on the Internet, via social media and on Web
sites maintained by individuals.
Although initially deserving of sympathy for the intrusion, Mosley has been calling for the repressive censorship of the internet in his vindictive quest to get the genie put back in the bottle.
Mosley has asked a Paris court during the past week to order Google to create an algorithm to somehow censor all such photos from its service and search engine, now and forever. His lawyer told the court, the Tribunal de Grande Instance, that if
Google France refused to remove the offending images it should face fines.
Google responded in a statement, noting that it had always honoured his requests to remove links to material that obviously violated the High Court order:
We sympathize with Mr. Mosley's situation, But his proposal to filter the Web would censor legitimate speech, restrict access to information, and stifle innovation.
Google noted that there was already a solution to the problem: Going after the actual publishers of the material, and working with Google through our existing and effective removals process.
The French court said it would issue a ruling on Oct. 21. Mosley has filed a similar case in Hamburg that is to be heard this month.
A new Dutch digital distribution agreement for eBook platforms will formalize a system for identifying customers whose purchases later appear on the Internet. The deal will see eBook sellers watermark digital downloads and log them against
specific customer accounts. That data will be kept for a minimum of two years just in case books appear on file-sharing sites. If they do, vendors will hand over customer details to rightsholders and anti-piracy outfit BREIN.
The new digital distribution deal for eBook merchants will see them watermark unique codes into the digital eBooks they sell which will identify a specific transaction number. These transaction numbers will be linked directly to a specific
So far the process isn't much out of the ordinary, but the new deal will also bridge the missing link between random-looking transaction numbers in a digital file on the Internet and a real person's identity.
The agreement will see vendors connected to the eBoekhuis platform share previously-private customer data directly with copyright holders and anti-piracy group BREIN. This means that should digital books turn up on BitTorrent networks or Usenet
for example, with a minimum of fuss BREIN will be able to match the embedded watermarks with the customer who bought them.
According to the document seen by EReaders.nl, eBook vendors will be required to store customer transaction data and make it available to BREIN and rightsholders for a minimum of two years.
The problematic sharing of customer information with a third-party (who could potentially sue them) will be solved by informing customers at the point of sale that their details may be shared with outsiders if their account is linked to abuse.
Whether customers will read the terms and conditions is open to debate, but if brought specifically and clearly to their attention it's likely that many would think twice before parting with cash.
People sending email to any of Google's 425 million Gmail users have no reasonable expectation that their communications are confidential, the internet giant has said in a court filing.
The advocacy group Consumer Watchdog uncovered the filing and called the revelation a stunning admission. John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's privacy project director said:
Google has finally admitted they don't respect privacy. People should take them at their word; if you care about your email correspondents' privacy, don't use Gmail.
Google set out its case last month in an attempt to dismiss a class action lawsuit that accuses the tech giant of breaking wire tap laws when it scans emails sent from non-Google accounts in order to target ads to Gmail users. That suit quotes
Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman:
Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.
The filing continues that Google:
Unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people's private email messages. Unbeknown to millions of people, on a daily basis and for years, Google has systematically and intentionally crossed the 'creepy line' to read private email
messages containing information you don't want anyone to know, and to acquire, collect, or mine valuable information from that mail.
Big business isn't standing by though. They are flooding the normal democratic process with lobbying to get the plans watered down and strip us of our right to privacy. It wants to keep on profiting from our most intimate data.
Phone companies like EE have been pushing particularly hard against the new data protection plans. It's not hard to see why. They wouldn't be able sell their customers' data without their consent.
As they stand, the new regulations would help make sure we control what happens to our data, not the big corporations making money from data about our personal lives. Here's what the new laws would mean for you.
You'd be able to decide who gets access to your data, what they can do with it and who they can give it to. You could delete your data or move it wherever you like, whenever you like.
Your data would be protected whenever you could be identified. This includes so-called pseudonymous data that could still single you out despite being stripped of personal identifiers such as names and addresses.
Services that want to use your data would have to get your explicit consent beforehand so there'd be no more vague or easy-to-misunderstand 'agreements.'
There would be severe penalties when the rules were broken to help deter companies from misusing your data and infringing your privacy.
But all this is under threat. If the big corporations and their armies of lobbyists get their way, the new law won't have any teeth and companies will just keep on invading your privacy.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is back.
Last year, Representatives Rogers and Ruppersberger introduced CISPA, which would create a gaping new exemption to existing privacy law. CISPA would grant companies more power to obtain threat information (such as from private
communications of users) and to disclose that data to the government without a warrant -- including sending data to the National Security Agency.
This week, CISPA was reintroduced in the House of Representatives. EFF is joining groups like ACLU and Fight for the Future in combating this legislation.
Last year, tens of thousands of concerned individuals used the EFF action center to speak out against overbroad and ineffective cybersecurity proposals. Together, we substantially changed the debate around cybersecurity in the U.S., moving
forward a range of privacy-protective amendments and ultimately helping to defeat the Senate bill.
Now we need your help again. Can you send a message to your Representatives asking them to oppose this bill?
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