Privacy International

In Privacy on 01/24/2013 at 00:26

Privacy International‘s mission is to defend the right to privacy across the world, and to fight unlawful surveillance and other intrusions into private life by governments and corporations.

Our vision is a world in which privacy is protected by governments, respected by corporations and cherished by individuals. We believe that technological developments should strengthen, rather than undermine, the right to a private life, and that everyone’s personal information and communications must be carefully safeguarded, regardless of nationality, religion, personal or economic status.

We aim to:
research and raise awareness about threats to privacy
monitor and report on surveillance methods and tactics
work at national and international levels to ensure strong legal protections for privacy
seek ways to protect privacy through the use of technology

Privacy International was founded in 1990 and was the first organisation to campaign at an international level on privacy issues.

We have advised and reported to international organisations like the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the UN Refugee Agency.

Our Advisory Board spans 47 countries.

Privacy International is registered in the UK as a charity (No. 1147471).


The Truth about Untruthful Postings

In Truth on 01/24/2013 at 00:23

A few months back, I was at a function that had a mix of writers, lawyers and doctors. I usually find myself in an awkward position when I am asked what I do for a living. Some individuals and professionals find my work in Digital Privacy distasteful, even though they may admit the necessity of my services.

At this function, I had to opportunity to strike up a conversation with Dr. Marc Hafkin, a psychologist out of Maryland. We began to discuss how the Internet has brought change to both of our businesses. However, the change was not always positive. I mentioned that one of the serious issues licensed professionals are facing is untrue Internet postings about them or their services. I explained how dangerous this can be in a world where there is no Delete button or accountability on the Internet.

Established professionals rely on their reputation for referrals, rather than on advertising. Therefore, when a client or ex-client casually posts a negative or untrue posting the same way they would of a restaurant or hotel, the results usually are catastrophic. Those who post untrue information do not see or care about the full ramifications of their actions. I speak from experience because I have witnessed how such actions have destroyed people’s lives and livelihood.

A lawyer I helped represented a client in a losing case. The disgruntled client began posting untrue damaging information about the lawyer. The lawyer attempted to get the website to remove the information, but was unsuccessful because the website’s host is in Morocco. The lawyer’s business dropped by forty percent.

In the past year, there have been huge increases in websites that cater to unaccountable postings, such as Cheaters, Rate My Teacher, etc. These types of websites are a serious problem because there is zero fact checking as well as zero accountability placed on the website or poster. The only recourse available to the person reviewed, is to post a comment about the posting. This hardly seems fair or just, especially since probably no one will believe them.

In my discussion with Dr. Hafkin, I mentioned that an article about me would be coming out in Psychology Today magazine in January 2013. Somehow, the idea of a social experiment evolved from the conversation. We thought it would be not only interesting, but important, to demonstrate how an untrue posting can hurt a licensed professional, as well as create serious problems with family, friends and associates.

In a few days, I will share more on the following website: http://www.untruepostings.com.


In Privacy on 01/24/2013 at 00:19

New technologies are radically advancing our freedoms but they are also enabling unparalleled invasions of privacy.

Your cell phone helps you keep in touch with friends and families but it also makes it easier for security agencies to track your location.

Your Web searches about sensitive medical information might seem a secret between you and your search engine, but companies like Google are creating a treasure trove of personal information by logging your online activities, and making it potentially available to any party wielding enough cash or a subpoena.

And the next time you try to board a plane, watch out—you might be turned away after being mistakenly placed on a government watch list, or be forced to open your email in the security line.

National and international laws have yet to catch up with the evolving need for privacy that comes with new technology. Several governments have also chosen to use malware to engage in extra-legal spying or system sabotage for dissidents or non-citizens, all in the name of “national security.”

Respect for individuals’ autonomy, anonymous speech, and the right to free association must be balanced against legitimate concerns like law enforcement. National governments must put legal checks in place to prevent abuse of state powers, and international bodies need to consider how a changing technological environment shapes security agencies’ best practices.

EFF fights in the courts and Congress to extend your privacy rights into the digital world, and works with partners around the globe to support the development of privacy-protecting technologies. Read our work on privacy issues below, and join EFF to help support our efforts.

For information about the law and technology of government surveillance in the United States check out EFF’s Surveillance Self-Defense project.