Invasions of Privacy: Invasive Authorities and Corporations

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin, February 1775


Invasions of Privacy

Due to the ever expanding powers granted to government agencies, privacy is not respected like a legitimate right anymore. While official statements seem to support the right to privacy, the invasive practices that many governments allow to covertly take place prove exactly the opposite.


Are you a Person of Interest ?

We might believe that since we are not involved in questionable acts, there is no reason to invade our privacy. Unfortunately, such belief is disproved by contemporary practices. According to the recent Snowden's revelations, it appears that the NSA intercepted during years an average of 10 million data exchanges per day in Germany alone. Can we expect it was done exclusively for counter-terrorism purposes when the main target was the area of Frankfurt, Germany's financial nerve center and main place of business ?


Massive Data collection by Government Agencies

We suspect that in many instances the protection of national security serves a dual purpose by covering massive espionage practiced mainly in the quest for unfair financial gains.

Agencies use routinely communication interceptions not only to combat terrorism and serious crimes, but also to maintain, protect or expand industrial and economic interests. While the first is perfectly legitimate, the latter translates into state-sponsored systematical industrial and intellectual property pillaging. Technically, some of these interception capabilities are nowadays also available to powerful private entities.


Extra-Territorial jurisdiction claims

Another type of assault against privacy concern the self-granted universal extra-territorial jurisdiction some nations claim. These provisions create a framework allowing government agencies to coerce businesses maintaining a corporate presence in some countries to hand over the private data of their customers NO MATTER WHERE SAID DATA IS EFFECTIVELY STORED, thus circumventing any foreign privacy law designed to protect such information.


Local use of Encryption

Several countries are actually either controlling, regulating, limiting or banning the use of encryption. Therefore the use of encryption which is not integrated online by an external party (the secure SSL connection to banking or webmail pages for example) may attract attention. The case of frequent travelers is particularly critical by exposing themselves inadvertently to changing local regulations regarding cryptography. Most individuals ignore the risks involved when traveling with encrypted data should they not be willing (or able) to hand over the keys if summoned to.



We often ignore the level of scrutiny and monitoring we are constantly submitted to. The following news & infos might provide a surprising insight:



NEWS: February 17, 2014 - EUROPE
ITWorld
Merkel and Hollande talk about avoiding US servers for emails

ITWorld

NEWS: January 2, 2014 - GLOBAL
PCWorld
Facebook faces lawsuit for allegedly scanning private messages

PCWorld

NEWS: December 29, 2013 - GLOBAL
Forbes / Der Spiegel
Report: NSA Intercepting Laptops Ordered Online, Installing Spyware

Forbes

NEWS: December 18, 2013 - GLOBAL
United Nations
193 members of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously approve the resolution entitled "The right to privacy in the digital age."

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

NEWS: November 19, 2013 - EUROPE (Sweden)
Falkvinge
Swedish Regime to Give Police, Customs, Tax Authorities Realtime Access to Citizen's Phone, Mail, More

Falkvinge

NEWS: August 15, 2013 - GLOBAL
THE GUARDIAN
Google: don't expect privacy when sending to Gmail

The Guardian

NEWS: August 4, 2013 - USA
THE GUARDIAN
Members of Congress denied access to basic information about NSA

The Guardian

NEWS: July 13, 2013 - GLOBAL
THE GUARDIAN & CNN
How Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages in Outlook and Skype

The Guardian   CNN

NEWS: July 3, 2013 - EUROPE (Germany)
DW (DEUTSCHE WELLE)
Germany fears NSA stole industrial secrets - EU/US trade agreement in jeopardy

Deutsche Welle

NEWS: June 6, 2013 - GLOBAL
WASHINGTON POST
NSA extracts data directly from the servers of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple

Washington Post

NEWS: May 13, 2013 - GLOBAL
MONDAQ
LOOMING CLASH: "The European Union’s draft data protection regulation contains new and controversial extra-territorial provisions extending the Regulation’s reach to some companies based outside the European Union"

MONDAQ

NEWS: December 4, 2012 - GLOBAL
CBS NEWS
"Patriot Act can obtain data in Europe, researchers say"

CBS NEWS
Cloud Computing in Higher Education and Research Institutions and the USA Patriot Act

INFO: July 2, 2012 - EUROPE (Germany)
PRIVATE PROVIDERS CONTRACTS FOR THE FEDERAL MINISTRY OF INTERIOR
"...Contract 486: Email monitoring software for Google, Hotmail and Yahoo..."
"...Contract 247: Monitoring software for Skype..."

Original document, 2012, German Bundestag, Pages 34 & 37

INFO: July 2012 - EUROPE (United Kingdom)
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE INTERCEPTION OF COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSIONER
"...During the reporting year public authorities as a whole, submitted 494,078 requests for communications data..."

Original document, 2011, UK Government, Chapter 7.3 Page 28

NEWS: May 23, 2012 - GLOBAL
THE NEW YORK TIMES
"How Google Collected Data From Wi-Fi Networks"

NY Times

INFO: May 2012 - USA
In 2012, Congressman Ed Markey asks the nation carriers how many requests for customer's data they receive from law enforcement agencies
According to the carries replies, the cumulated number of requests from law enforcement agencies reaches 1.3 million.

Example of query letter sent to AT&T
Response letter from AT&T
Response letter from C Spire
Response letter from Cricket
Response letter from Metro PCS
Response letter from Sprint
Response letter from T-Mobile
Response letter from TRACFONE
Response letter from US Cellular
Response letter from Verizon Wireless

NEWS: September 19, 2011 - EUROPE (The Netherlands)
DUTCH GOVERNMENT TO BAN U.S. CLOUD PROVIDERS
"...The Dutch government is to basically exclude U.S. cloud providers from government IT contracts amid concerns of the reach of the Patriot Act in Europe...

ZDNET

NEWS: June 28, 2011 - EUROPE
ZDNET
"Microsoft admits Patriot Act can access EU-based cloud data"

ZDNET

NEWS: July 7, 2007 - GLOBAL
WIRED
"...Hushmail, a longtime provider of encrypted web-based email, markets itself by saying that 'not even a Hushmail employee with access to our servers can read your encrypted e-mail, since each message is uniquely encoded before it leaves your computer.' But it turns out that statement seems not to apply to individuals targeted by government agencies that are able to convince a Canadian court to serve a court order on the company....."

WIRED.COM link, Encrypted E-Mail Company Hushmail Spills to Feds

INFO: July 11, 2001 - EUROPE (European Union)
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT REPORT ON THE EXISTENCE OF A GLOBAL SYSTEM FOR THE INTERCEPTION OF PRIVATE AND COMMERCIAL COMMUNICATIONS (ECHELON interception system)
"...The report by the Temporary Committee confirms the existence of the Echelon interception system which is administered by various countries, including the United Kingdom, a Member State of the European Union, with the cooperation of Germany. An interception system of this nature, which does not differentiate between communications, data and documents, infringes the fundamental right to privacy guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union...."

Original document, European Parliament, Page 146

INFO: GLOBAL
ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER
"...Gmail violates the privacy rights of non-subscribers. Non-subscribers who e-mail a Gmail user have "content extraction" performed on their e-mail even though they have not consented to have their communications monitored, nor may they even be aware that their communications are being analyzed...."

EPIC.ORG link, Gmail Privacy FAQ

INFO: United States of America
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Phone tracking is so common that cell phone companies have manuals explaining what data they store, how much they charge police to access that data, and what officers need to do to get it. It is a big business, funded with taxpayer money.

ACLU Original document including confidential phone companies manuals
ACLU Original document, Findings & Analysis of Cell Phone Tracking