Explainers

Explainer

In a scramble to track, and thereby stem the flow of, new cases of the Coronavirus, Governments around the world are rushing to track the locations of their populace. One way to do this is to write a smartphone app which uses Bluetooth technology, and encourage (or mandate) that individuals download and use the app. The aim of this piece is to provide more detail on the technology itself, rather than a deep dive into the risks and whether or not Bluetooth technology should be used.

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Photo By: Cpl. Joel Abshier ‘Biometrics’ describes the physiological and behavioural characteristics of individuals. This could be fingerprints, voice, face, retina and iris patterns, hand geometry, gait or DNA profiles. Because biometric data is particularly sensitive and revealing of individual’s
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Could an app you have never even heard of put you at risk? This is what happened to Chloe (real name has been changed), an investigative journalist exposed by an app that her source was using. Her source was using TrueCaller, an app that aims to identify phone numbers so users can filter out calls
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(In order to click the hyperlinks in the explainer below, please download the pdf version at the bottom of the page).
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You can also read a more detailed explainer about police hacking here.
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(In order to click the hyperlinks in the explainer below, please download the pdf version at the bottom of the page).
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(In order to click the hyperlinks in the explainer below, please download the pdf version at the bottom of the page).
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(In order to click the hyperlinks in the explainer below, please download the pdf version at the bottom of the page).
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You can also read a more detailed explainer about social media intelligence (SOCMINT) here.
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(In order to click the hyperlinks in the explainer below, please download the pdf version at the bottom of the page).
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You can also read a more detailed explainer about body worn video cameras here.
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This guide covers an array of topics, including the legality of mass surveillance operations, the law surrounding data retention, the extraterritorial application of human rights law and digital surveillance, and the international law on hacking for surveillance purposes. It is a handy reference
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You can also read a more detailed explainer about facial recognition cameras here.
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(In order to click the hyperlinks in the explainer below, please download the pdf version at the bottom of the page).
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UPDATED 11TH JUNE 2019: We've just launched our campaign, and you can now write to your local PCC easily using the online portal we have created with Liberty. (In order to click the hyperlinks in the explainer below, please download the pdf version at the bottom of the page).
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You can also read a more detailed explainer about IMSI catchers here.
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You can also read a more detailed explainer about predictive policing here.
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You can also read a more detailed explainer about mobile phone extraction here.
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This is the third part of Understanding Identity Systems. Read Part 1: Why ID?, and Part 2: Discrimination and Identity. Biometrics Biometrics are the physiological and behavioural characteristics of individuals. This could be fingerprints, voice, face, retina and iris patterns, hand geometry, gait
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This is the second part of Understanding Identity Systems. Read Part 1: Why ID?, and Part 3: The Risks of ID. The existing identity landscape Every country has an existing landscape of ways in which people can identify themselves. This can include an existing ID card system, but also a range from
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Introduction Of all the data-intensive initiatives that a government can introduce, some of the largest are ID systems. They have implications across a broad range of human and civil rights. How do we begin to critique an ID system, to begin to understand its strengths and weaknesses? There are a
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SIM card registration allows the state to know the identity of the owner of a SIM card, and thus who is most likely making a call or sending a message. As a condition for the purchase or activation of a SIM card, the user is asked to provide personal data as well as a valid ID.

 

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In the digital economy there is a trend towards corporate concentration. This is true for social media platforms, search engines, smart phone operating systems, digital entertainment, or online retailers. Meanwhile, the way in which market dominance is measured traditionally does not always capture
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Yesterday, the European Court of Human Rights issued its judgement in Big Brother Watch & Others V. the UK. Below, we answer some of the main questions relating to the case. What's the ruling all about? In a nutshell, one of the world's most important courts, the European Court of Human Rights
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Privacy International’s new report shows how countries with powerful security agencies are training, equipping, and directly financing foreign surveillance agencies. Driven by advances in technology, increased surveillance is both powered by and empowering rising authoritarianism globally, as well
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What is an IMSI catcher? An IMSI catcher is an intrusive piece of technology that can be used to locate and track all mobile phones that are switched on in a certain area. An IMSI catcher does this by ‘pretending’ to be a mobile phone tower - tricking your phone into connecting to the IMSI-catcher
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A short video explaining how governments compromise the security of our devices and infrastructure to feed their surveillance objectives.

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Phone networks are divided between two networks: the physical and the mobile. The physical runs on the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) that serves your home phone. Mobile networks are dominant in the age of communication and are used to relay mobile communications to the PSTN. The most
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Video surveillance technologies are deployed in public and private areas for monitoring purposes. Closed-circuit television (CCTV)– a connected network of stationary and mobile video cameras– is increasingly used in public areas, private businesses and public institutions such as schools and
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What is the Global Surveillance Industry? Today, a global industry consisting of hundreds of companies develops and sells surveillance technology to government agencies around the world. Together, these companies sell a wide range of systems used to identify, track, and monitor individuals and their
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A video explainer on how companies and governments are extracting and exploiting our data.

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We explore in a short video how privacy is defined and needed today.

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Once rare, now governments have expansive capabilities to monitor communications.

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An explanatory video on a key legal protection for privacy, and yet poorly understood.

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We explain in simple terms what was all the excitement around 'big data'.

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A video that explains the value of the data about our communications, or 'metadata'.

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What is SOCMINT? Social media intelligence (SOCMINT) refers to the techniques and technologies that allow companies or governments to monitor social media networking sites (SNSs), such as Facebook or Twitter. SOCMINT includes monitoring of content, such as messages or images posted, and other data
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What is integrated policing? Integrated policing is the collection and centralisation of data used for policing purposes. In the era of ‘big data’, companies – often the same companies offering infrastructures for smart cities – are offering interfaces that allow police easier access to datasets
News & Analysis
Dear Politicians, With elections coming up and quite a few cringe-worthy comments that have come from many of you and from all sides of the political spectrum, we figured it was time to have a chat about encryption. First, let’s say what you shouldn’t do: call for boycotts of companies because they
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Disclaimer: This piece was written in April 2017. Since publishing, further information has come out about Cambridge Analytica and the company's involvement in elections. Recently, the data mining firm Cambridge Analytica has been the centre of tons of debate around the use of profiling and micro
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This briefing highlights opportunities for NGOs to raise issues related to the right to privacy before some selected UN human rights bodies that have the mandate and the capacity to monitor and provide recommendations and redress. The briefing provides some examples based on Privacy International’s
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Tech firms and governments are keen to use algorithms and AI, everywhere. We urgently need to understand what algorithms, intelligence, and machine learning actually are so that we can disentangle the optimism from the hype. It will also ensure that we come up with meaningful responses and
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This week, Privacy International, together with nine other international human rights NGOs, filed submissions with the European Court of Human Rights. Our case challenges the UK government’s bulk interception of internet traffic transiting fiber optic cables landing in the UK and its access to
Report
When we think of privacy in the political system we tend to recall historic events like Watergate, secret files held by governments in war-time, and blacklists. Modern political surveillance is more advanced and sophisticated. In this report we identify some of the modern political surveillance