Privacy International launches ‘Big Brother Incorporated’ project on sale of surveillance tech to authoritarian regimes
I’m happy to announce that Privacy International has launched its new big project called ‘Big Brother Incorporated’, which will (among other things) investigate the sale of surveillance technologies to authoritarian regimes. Read all about it here.
PI has now put together a comprehensive online database of companies that sell surveillance products. It also added some opinion pieces about the topic (including one by me on the need to strengthen due dilligence and export licenses for tech companies) and a handy guide to the technical jargon that is being used in the surveillance industry. PI is also in the process of building strategic litigation against some of the Western companies complicit in human rights abuses by governments and intelligence agencies across the Middle East and North Africa.
I will host an open roundtable on some of these issues in Brussels on the 27th of January in Bozar (Ravensteinstraat 23). Everybody’s more than welcome.
Don’t be evil – Technology companies’ role in supporting and suppressing human rights activists
Mathias Vermeulen (VUB – chair)
Marcel Rosenbach (Der Spiegel – moderator)
Marietje Schaake (ALDE Member of the European Parliament)
Ben Roome (Nokia Siemens Network)
Chris Soghoian (ACLU)
Ahmed Ghappour (Egyptian Initiative for Human Rights)
Eric King (Privacy International)
The Essex Human Rights Review has issued a ‘Special Issue on Protecting Human Rights while Countering Terrorism a Decade after 9/11’, which focuses on the practical implications and challenges of the changing landscape of counter terrorism measures since 9/11 and their impact on human rights. All articles can be downloaded from the website.
Abstract: This study evaluates the oversight of national security and intelligence agencies by parliaments and specialised non-parliamentary oversight bodies, with a view to identifying good practices that can inform the European Parliament’s approach to strengthening the oversight of Europol, Eurojust, Frontex and, to a lesser extent, Sitcen. The study puts forward a series of detailed recommendations (including in the field of access to classified information) that are formulated on the basis of indepth assessments of: (1) the current functions and powers of these four bodies; (2) existing arrangements for the oversight of these bodies by the European Parliament, the Joint Supervisory Bodies and national parliaments; and (3) the legal and institutional frameworks for parliamentary and specialised oversight of security and intelligence agencies in EU Member States and other major democracies.
We will present the study at the LIBE Committee at 15h on Monday the 3d of October. An Interparliamentary Committee Meeting on “Democratic Accountability of the Internal Security Strategy and the Role of Europol, Eurojust and Frontex” will be held on Wednesday 5 October from 15.00 to 18.30 and on Thursday 6 October from 9.00 to 12.30 in the Hemicycle of the Paul-Henri Spaak building of the European Parliament as well, which is open to the public. You can register for this meeting until the 29th of September.
Publication date: August 2011
This book critically and comparatively examines the responses of the United Nations and a range of countries to the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. It assesses the convergence between the responses of western democracies including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada with countries with more experience with terrorism including Egypt, Syria, Israel, Singapore, and Indonesia. A number of common themes – the use of criminal law and immigration law, the regulation of speech associated with terrorism, the review of the state’s whole of government counter-terrorism activities, and the development of national security policies – are discussed. The book provides a critical take on how the United Nations promoted terrorism financing laws and listing processes and the regulation of speech associated with terrorism but failed to agree on a definition of terrorism or the importance of respecting human rights while combating terrorism. It also assesses the failures of the American extra-legal approach and departures from criminal justice and the challenges of transnational cooperation and accountability for counter-terrorism.
There is clearly a dilemma in deciding at what moment the institutions in these countries have gained sufficient legitimacy for it to be right for us to begin discussing these questions of hard security. This is a dilemma for our Arab partners in the reform process, as much as it is for us. (…) It is too early to go into detail, but over the next few months we need to plan a comprehensive model of support to reform of the security sector, and parallel reform of the judicial sector, together with the emerging democratic Governments of the Arab World. I welcome the inclusion of reform of the security and law enforcement sector under “Supporting Deep Democracy” in the joint communication of the Commission and High Representative “A new response to a changing neighbourhood”, and I look forward to the policy dialogue envisaged later this year on Justice and Home Affairs under the Stockholm Programme.”
Read more here.
“I think there is a bigger picture here, to be honest. The question is how will the transitional regime receive him considering that the prosecution was based on a political crime of dissent,” said Ghappour. “Does Mubarak’s departure mark a game change for the post-9/11 cases? Will he be treated differently because he was in Guantanamo bay?”