"Facebook, Inc. and related entities have received a letter demanding them to stop EU-US data transfers until U.S. laws comply with the EU data protection regime, or risk lawsuit in the Netherlands. Facebook must cease transfer by 15 January 2016. The complaining parties have reserved rights to file suit if compliance is not forthcoming.

The demand and summons letter was sent today by the Boekx law firm in Amsterdam on behalf of numerous plaintiffs including:
• Privacy First Foundation (Stichting Privacy First)
• Public Interest Litigation Project PILP
• Dutch Platform for the Protection of Civil Rights
and other users of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. The letter was sent to Facebook Netherlands B.V., Facebook Ireland Limited, Facebook Inc. and Instagram LLC (California), and WhatsApp Inc. (California).

Facebook response

Facebook spokesperson Matt Steinfeld provided (...) the following written statement:

“Facebook uses the same mechanisms that thousands of others companies across the EU use to transfer data legally from the EU to the US, and to other countries around the world. We believe that the best solution to the on-going debate around transatlantic data transfers is for there to be a new Safe Harbor agreement with appropriate safeguards for EU citizens.”
“We understand that authorities in the EU and US are working hard to put such an agreement in place as soon as possible. We trust that these groups are engaging with their respective governments on this process to help it reach a successful conclusion.”

Lawsuit intended to pressure Facebook

Otto Volgenant of the Boekx stated to Dutch outlet RTLZ, “We want to put pressure on Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg must make its voice heard in the debate about privacy, the US government has the solution for this problem.” According to Volgenant (as reported), the case would first be brought in The Hague, which could exercise its option to refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

Volgenant predicted that such referral would not be made, given the clarity of law on the topic since the recent Schrems ruling of the European Court of Justice (discussed further below).

U.S. compliant-laws required

Specifically, the demand requires that Facebook “end the current unlawful transfer of personal data from the European Union to the United States” until the U.S. adopts laws “essentially equivalent to” European data protection laws, or face lawsuit in the Netherlands. The summons gives Facebook until Friday 15 January 2016 (18:00 CET) to cease EU-US transfers, or risk having a court force it and related Facebook entities, through an injunction, to cease such transfers.

Facebook “remarkably absent” in data privacy discussions

In its letter, Boekx accuses Facebook of being “remarkably absent” in the public debate over EU-US data transfers, following the European Court of Justice decision in Schrems, which decision invalidated the so-called “Safe Harbor Agreement” between the U.S. and the E.U. and thus made such transfers illegal under E.U. law., effective immediately upon rendering of that decision. (...)

The demand letter further articulates the specifics of the Schrems decision, including that court’s conclusions that the NSA violated “European fundamental rights to respect for private life” by its “access on a generalized basis to the content of electronic communications.”
(...)
The letter concludes:

If we cannot find an amicable solution and Facebook does not refrain from further transfer of personal data of data subjects from the European Union to the United States by then, we reserve the right to initiate legal proceedings in the Netherlands and to request a preliminary injunction from the competent Dutch Court."

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisabrownlee/2015/12/15/facebook-threatened-with-lawsuit-over-eu-us-data-transfers-facebook-response/, 15 December 2015.

Today the Privacy First Foundation and three other public interest groups as well as a number of Dutch individual users of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram request Mark Zuckerberg to join the public debate following the landmark Schrems-judgment of the European Court of Justice.

On 6 October 2015, the European Court of Justice invalidated the Safe Harbour Decision, which was the basis for Facebook’s transfer of personal data from the European Union to the United States. The Grand Chamber of the Court found that the legislation of the United States fails to ensure a level of protection essentially equivalent to that guaranteed in the legal order of the European Union. The NSA has access to Facebook content of users from the European Union, without any judicial redress being available to them. The Court held that this compromises the essence of the fundamental right to privacy. These issues have not been resolved yet.

Following the judgment, Facebook continued the transfer of personal data from the European Union to the United States. Bas Filippini of Privacy First says: ‘Absent an adequate level of protection in the United States, the continued transfer of personal data is clearly incompatible with European data protection laws. Such transfer violates the rights of millions of individuals. If this is not resolved shortly, we will initiate legal action.’

To date, Facebook has been remarkably absent in the public debate that followed this landmark judgment. Ton Siedsma of Bits of Freedom says: ‘We invite Facebook to publicly engage in a meaningful and transparent dialogue aimed at finding a solution, and to pressure the authorities to find such solution. Facebook is invited to publicly share its current and intended policies and practice on data transfer.’

Today, Facebook was summoned to come up with an adequate solution ultimately by 15 January 2016. If it fails to do so, civil rights groups and a number of Dutch individuals will request the Court in The Hague to grant an injunction ordering Facebook to immediately cease the transfer of personal data to the United States. This pertains to all services of Facebook, including WhatsApp and Instagram.

‘As long as the United States fails to provide an adequate level of protection against mass surveillance, personal data may not be transferred to the United States. Taking Facebook to court emphasizes the urgency of resolving this issue.’ says Jelle Klaas of the Public Interest Litigation Project of NJCM, the Dutch section of the International Commission of Jurists. ‘Our goal is not to put the screens of millions of users to black, but to enhance the current level of privacy protection. Hopefully, a solution can be found shortly by the legislators.’

Click HERE for our entire letter of summons to Mark Zuckerberg (pdf).

Update 21 January 2016: shortly before the deadline Facebook responded to our letter of summons by fax, click HERE (pdf). According to Facebook, there is still a suitable legal basis for the transfer of personal data from the EU to the US, despite the invalidity of Safe Harbour. Privacy First et al. contest this and have today sent a response to Facebook, click HERE (pdf).

In the discussion about a newly proposed surveillance bill in England, Facebook, following our summons letter, has made it publicly clear that:

“Governments should not be able to compel the production of private communications content absent authorization from an independent and impartial judicial official. (...) Surveillance laws should not permit bulk collection of information. The principles require that the Government specifically identify the individuals or accounts to be targeted and should expressly prohibit bulk surveillance.”

However, it is precisely these aspects where, according to the European Court of Justice, the legal protection in the US is inadequate. In our letter of this afternoon, Privacy First et al. have therefore requested Facebook to present their standpoint also in the debate about mass surveillance in the US. Negotiations about this issue are currently ongoing between the EU and the US. It would be good if Facebook gets involved in this debate, in line with the standpoint it voiced in relation to the English legislative proposal.

If in the short term a solution will not be found for the fundamental privacy issues the European Court of Justice has identified, Privacy First et al. will consider bringing interim injunction proceedings before the district court of The Hague.

Published in Litigation

Since we are a foundation that has privacy very high on its agenda, it is only natural for us to make use of a privacy-friendly hosting service for our website. Therefore the websites of Privacy First (privacyfirst.nl and privacyfirst.eu) are hosted on the servers of Greenhost in Amsterdam since this month. This decision was preceded by a thorough exploration of foreign alternatives, varying from hosting services inside a nuclear bunker in Sweden to VPN tunnels in Switzerland and an old fortress in the North Sea. However, Greenhost proved to be well ahead of its foreign competitors in terms of customer-friendliness, rapid response, sustainability and low costs for reliable and secure hosting, including Privacy by Design. Even the physical location is an advantage: Greenhost is situated in Amsterdam just a few hundred metres from the Privacy First office. Moreover, Greenhost has been a trustworthy partner of a number of NGOs, including Bits of Freedom. For Privacy First however, the decisive aspect was the fact that Greenhost has for years taken up an exemplary role of privacy pioneer, whereas many other ICT companies lagged behind in this respect. In 2009 Greenhost stopped logging email data and called for other companies to do the same. At the beginning of 2011 Greenhost wrote a manual for the security of internet traffic: the Basic Internet Security Manual. These initiatives not only reflect audacity and leadership, but also corporate social responsibility in the sense of privacy-friendly entrepreneurship. In that regard Greenhost and Privacy First have a shared vision on society. Therefore Privacy First looks forward with great confidence to the cooperation with Greenhost in the years to come!

Published in Online Privacy

Earlier this year the Dutch Minister of Justice and Security Ivo Opstelten came up with the miserable plan to authorize the Dutch police force to hack into your computer (both at home and abroad!) and to enable the police to demand that you decrypt your encrypted files in the presence of a policeman and obediently hand them over to the State. In the context of an online consultation (in Dutch), Privacy First notified to the Minister that it has a number of principal objections against his plans:

Your Excellency,

The Privacy First Foundation hereby advises you to withdraw the legislative proposal ‘enforcement of the fight against cybercrime’ on the basis of the following eleven principal grounds:

  1. In our view, this legislative proposal forms a typical building block for a police State, not for a democratic constitutional State based on freedom and trust.
  2. The Netherlands has a general human rights duty to continuously fulfil the right to privacy instead of restricting it. With this legislative proposal the Netherlands violates this general duty.      
  3. This legislative proposal is not strictly necessary (contrary to possibly being ‘useful’ or 'handy') in a democratic society. Therefore the legislative proposal is in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  4. Moreover, this legislative proposal violates the prohibition of self-incrimination (nemo tenetur se ipsum accusare).
  5. Function creep is a universal phenomenon. This will also apply to this legislative proposal, which will form the basis for future abuse of power.
  6. This legislative proposal puts the relationship of trust between the Dutch government and the Dutch people to the test. This will lead to a chilling effect in Dutch society.
  7. Through this legislative proposal age-old assets such as freedom of the press and the protection of journalistic sources, whistleblowers, freedom of speech, free information gathering, freedom of communication and the right to a fair trial are put under severe pressure. This is detrimental to the dynamics within a free democratic constitutional State.
  8. This legislative proposal and the accompanying technology will be imported and abused by less democratic governments abroad. Therefore the legislative proposal forms an international precedent for a worldwide Rule of the Jungle instead of the Rule of Law.
  9. As of yet the legislative proposal lacks a thorough and independent Privacy Impact Assessment.
  10. This legislative proposal stimulates suboptimal (i.e. crackable by the government, because otherwise illegal?) instead of optimal (‘uncrackable’) ICT security.
  11. Fighting cybercrime demands multilateral cooperation and coordination instead of unilateral panic-mongering as is the case with this legislative proposal.

Yours sincerely,

The Privacy First Foundation

Published in Law & Politics

The Privacy First Foundation organises networking drinks on a regular basis, inviting a prominent speaker around a topical issue. In September this year we organised a night with the Head of the AIVD, the Dutch Intelligence and Security Service. On 22 October we invited a speaker from the cyber security scene, namely Wil van Gemert, Director of Cyber Security at the NCTV, the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security, part of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice. Investigative journalist Brenno de Winter was asked to moderate the discussion. Click HEREpdf for the invitation to our network (in Dutch). Would you also like to receive our invitations from now on? Email us! Below is a translated summary of Mr. Van Gemert's speech and the discussion with the audience that followed:

Introduction by Privacy FirstBas Filippini

Chairman Bas Filippini gives a short introduction on the work of the Privacy First Foundation and introduces Wil van Gemert as well as Brenno de Winter. Filippini recalls that the Dutch government increasingly expects citizens to do everything digitally. In particular the elderly as well as people with fundamental objections are put in difficulty by this development. Meanwhile the government attains ever more powers of surveillance in the digital private domain of citizens. A current development in this regard is the plan of Dutch Security and Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten to be able to hack into computers of citizens. Privacy First is firmly opposed to this plan because, among other things, it would violate the right to confidentiality of email. The Dutch government should safeguard the privacy of its citizens. In that sense Privacy First and the Dutch government share the same goal, albeit from different perspectives. However, Opstelten’s hacking plans threaten to break down people's privacy and (through this) democracy as a whole. Filippini then gives the floor to Wil van Gemert.        

Trends in cyber security

Mr. Van Gemert thanks Privacy First for the invitation and kicks off by showing a funny commercial advertisement about linguistic confusion; click HERE. Like in the video, in cyber security it is all about trust, knowledge and awareness. Finding the right balance between tasks and responsibilities is equally important. In his lecture Van Gemert consecutively pays attention to current trends in cyber security, tasks of the government, cooperation between the public and the private sphere, the Netherlands Cyber Security Assessment (Cyber Security Beeld Nederland) and 'security versus privacy?': is this a contradiction or rather a matter of complementarity? And what are the present-day challenges? When it comes to cyber security, it all revolves around confidentiality, reliability, integrity and continuity of data in the digital information society. The first worldwide trend that Van Gemert identifies is 'Big Data': the enormous amount of data that is stored continuously and which increases on a daily basis. How can we handle this in good way? A second trend is hyperconnectivity: the number of digital (internet) connections increases exponentially. This is how an 'Internet of Things' comes to life. The Netherlands has the one but highest internet density in the world, which gives our country a special position in this regard. A third trend is the disappearance of borders, both in time and distance as well as in terms of work and the private sphere. These trends require changes both in the way companies do business as well as the role of the government in guaranteeing a secure society. These trends also have an influence on people, on consumers, for example through the new possibilities offered by mobile telephony. Big Data can be used to make highly personalised commercial offers in real time, say, a travel insurance when you're at Schiphol airport. However, when Van Gemert asks how many in the audience find this a good idea, not a single hand is raised. Van Gemert doesn't think it's a good idea himself either: it harms your privacy, it makes you feel you're being followed. Relatively many youths seem to be just fine with it though.Wil van Gemert

The influence of social media

An important aspect of cyber security is mobility: companies want to be able to reach their clients everywhere they go and employees are increasingly less bound to a workplace at the employer's office. For companies, political parties and the government too, social media become ever more important to know what goes on in the market or in society. An interesting case is the recent incident with an airplane from Vueling Airlines with which radio contact was lost and for which for some time the possibility of a hijacking was accounted for. Since 2001 such an airplane (a 'renegade', PF) is escorted by F16s by procedure. Imagine, however, that all passengers inside the airplane communicate through Twitter that things are fine, then how do you deal with that as a government? These are questions that are pondered over within the government at the moment. Another aspect concerns the role of the government: from a monopoly to a more independent role since for most part the cyber infrastructure is in the hands of companies. Then there's the authority issue: social media have an influence on the degree to which government campaigns are successful with the general public. A recent example is the government campaign for vaccinations against cervical cancer. A further aspect is that cyber security is community driven: the community makes itself the owner of a certain problem, as was the case for example with the Dorifel virus. This community consists of researchers, relevant companies, hackers etc. and can sometimes offer clarity on certain issues, unlike with classical investigation methods whereby the directions are with the government. However, the digital IQ of most companies is still low, so it is a challenge for the government to increase the digital IQ of companies, says Van Gemert.

Lack of a security concept in cyberspace

The Netherlands is a country characterised by seas and dykes: if the water seeps through, we build a dyke around it. This classical way of crisis containment is almost impossible in cyberspace. Companies often are not aware of where their data are situated precisely, how they are interconnected and which effects occur when a failure manifests itself somewhere. Apart from the human factor, platforms, applications and infrastructures all have problems of their own. Due to the interaction between these four levels, a security problem often becomes very extensive. In the physical world we are familiar with a safety concept; think of the safety regulations on a construction site. But is there such a security concept in cyberspace? And which roles do the government, the private sector and citizens play in this? At the moment this is insufficiently clear. On the highway certain safety standards and traffic rules are in force. But each citizen can also buy a computer and go onto the digital highway unprotected.

Wil van Gemert
Public-private partnerships

Since one and a half years the Netherlands has a National Cyber Security Strategy. Part of this has been the installation of a Cyber Security Council: an independent advisory body for the government. In the National Cyber Security Strategy it has been agreed that the Netherlands makes an annual Cyber Security Assessment of threats and actors. Furthermore, from the beginning of 2012 there is an operational management within the NCTV, which consists of two parts: 1) the National Cyber Security Centre, NCSC (which acts as a centre of excellence, among other things) and 2) a range of policies (which support, among other things, the answering of parliamentary questions and questions from the private sector). The starting point here are public-private partnerships; in this way new coalitions with new forms of participation between the government and trade and industry as well as with NGOs come to life. Both the government as well as private parties and experts take part in the Cyber Security Council and in the NCSC. One topic that is being dealt with together is cloud computing. Moreover, since recently the NCSC has an ICT Response Board; within this public-private partnership people from the government and the industry can be summoned up for advice and assistance in the event of incidents or crisis situations. Then there are ISACs, Information Sharing and Analytical Committees, in different areas, for example for the vital infrastructure with regard to energy, water, finances, etc. This too is a public-private partnership.

Threats in cyberspace

Cyber security has been a hot topic of late and negative incidents sometimes result in positive initiatives. There has been an unanimous request by the House of Representatives to set up a security breaches notification centre. In this context Van Gemert tells the following: "The Diginotar affair has made clear that the following question is of relevance: what can the government do in the event of a crisis? How can the government force a company that plays a key role to cooperate in order to prevent social breakdown and damage to society? Are such possibilities at our disposal in the first place? Our conclusion from July this year was affirmative, in case we can declare a state of emergency in relation to a cyber incident." Furthermore, Van Gemert stresses that we should not just invest in the detection of data leakages, but also in the right response to this. Hereby the role of the government concentrates on coordination, communication and consultation. In July this year the second Cyber Security Assessment of threats, targets and actors was released. The main threat comes from foreign governments (espionage) and cyber criminality. Contrary to what most people believe, so far cyber terrorism poses a smaller threat. In addition, cooperation between 'hacktivists' and foreign State actors (i.e. intelligence services) could be worrisome.

Wil van Gemert

Privacy & security

On the relationship between privacy and security, Van Gemert remarks that as far as he is concerned "there is no privacy without security. If you do not organise security, in the end there will no be privacy. You really do need to take measures to make sure your privacy is protected. Privacy and security have a mutual interest in each other. So in that area, information protection and related agreements are necessary. Also in order to protect privacy, on a daily basis the NCSC brings out advice on vulnerabilities which could be harmful for companies and citizens. Our website www.waarschuwingsdienst.nl is focussed on making citizens more aware and to mobilise them against threats. However, we are not a supervisory body, we cannot enforce anything. We can merely give out advice and propose best practices. Between 12 and 22 November 2012 the government will pay attention to 'awareness' through its campaign Alert Online in cooperation with 10 partners. This campaign is aimed at citizens as well as companies."

Finally, Van Gemert underlined the importance of fundamental digital rights and self-reliance of citizens through knowledge and awareness. Van Gemert brings forward three subjects for discussion with the audience: 1) How do security and freedom relate to each other conceptually? 2) What is the role of Privacy First? Is it always to be an opposing force or can it also be an ally? 3) What is the role within cyberspace of our law-enforcement and supervisory organs, for instance the police? What is their role when it comes to individual emergency aid and law-enforcement in cyberspace?Wil van Gemert sheet privacyfirst challenges

Discussion with the audience

Even though Van Gemert is not responsible for the cybercrime department, he is nevertheless prepared to say one or two things about it on behalf of the Ministry of Security and Justice. Answering a question from the audience about the possible international consequences which an intervention in cyberspace from the Netherlands may have, Van Gemert points out that the concept of virtuality requires a different approach compared to a territorial approach when it's not clear where a particular server is situated. He hereby makes a comparison with the development of maritime law in international waters. The country in which the damage occurs should form a point of reference in terms of jurisdiction. However, in this regard there are no unequivocal answers; the national and international rules on these matters are not yet clear. Brenno de Winter emphasises that Dutch hacking activities in foreign countries could well set a dangerous international precedent. What if a country like Iran ascribes those same powers to itself? This is a concern that is shared with others among the audience.

Another question from the audience relates to the public-private partnership as is the case with Diginotar. Israeli wiretapping systems in the Netherlands are being referred to as well. Does the Netherlands not make itself enormously vulnerable with this? Van Gemert replies that this has indeed become a prominent question since the Diginotar affair. However, he is not willing to go into the topic of wiretapping systems since he's not involved in this policywise. Then it's being mentioned from the audience that, within public-private partnerships in the area of cyber security, Dutch NGOs are structurally being kept out. De Winter too remarks that the NCSC is seen by many as an unreachable fortress where you're not being heard. Van Gemert responds to this saying the NCSC certainly does look for contact with pressure groups. Here too the question is which side do these pressure groups pick: do they take on an opposing or a supporting role? "I'm convinced that we should look for new forms of cooperation between the government, the industry and trade, the citizenry and with pressure groups, which make sure our society becomes more secure. Looking out for those contacts is the reason that I'm standing here," Van Gemert says.

Another question from the audience is about the detection of hack attempts. To what extend is this being delegated by the government to industry? Van Gemert reacts saying that the government does the detection work itself on the basis of the exchange of digital traffic data (not on the basis of content) as far as it concerns the vital (government) infrastructure; companies take care of such detection efforts themselves. Someone in the audience remarks that in this respect the government could take up the role of bringing together relevant knowledge and experience in each individual business sector. Another comment from the audience concerns the lack of international rules that was presupposed earlier: why does the Netherlands not conform itself to the already existing Budapest Convention on Cybercrime and why are the legal possibilities under this Convention not being adequately used? Other observations deal with the cooperation between Dutch municipalities, the banks and the telecom sector. Someone asks how big a threat cyber warfare really is and how the Netherlands prepares itself for it. Van Gemert here refers to cyber as the 'fifth battlefield' apart from the four domains of land, sea, air and space. This is an actual development: by now there are about 20 countries which have the capacity for this type of warfare. There are a lot of financial cuts in the Netherlands, but money is actually being invested on cyber matters by the Ministry of Defence. Cyber war entails a new question of attribution: which country inflicts the damage and how is one to react to it? During the discussion the US Patriot Act is mentioned as well as the risks of storing data in 'the cloud'. "Think carefully about what you put in the cloud," Van Gemert advises. Brenno de WinterThen comes the question to what extent the government considers the protection of personal data vital for our infrastructure and to what degree the government is keeping an eye on the risks of identity fraud and identity theft through the coupling of personal data to citizen service numbers. Does the government endorse the Scientific Council for Government Policy report called iGovernment? Is declaring a cyber state of emergency equivalent to a disaster or warfare situation in which all regular legislation can be nullified with all the privacy risks it entails?

Someone mentions that the police power to hack into computers of citizens could imply that computer data of individuals could be changed without it being noticed and could then be used against those same individuals. Van Gemert replies that personal data is fundamental and critical data that is to be protected properly. Not just companies but citizens themselves ought to be better aware of this. As far as a state of emergency is concerned, Van Gemert remarks that this was not even proclaimed during the Dutch flood of 1953. In terms of cyberspace there is no need for new, complementary legislation for a state of emergency. Current legislation for a state of emergency can only be applied in extreme situationsWil van Gemert.

Another point of discussion is the fact that for years the Dutch government has been dependent on Microsoft: why is this situation (with the associated privacy risks) lasting ever longer? On request Van Gemert clarifies his earlier remarks on a cyber state of emergency: such a situation cannot be proclaimed on the basis of a single incident, but only when we're dealing with large-scale societal breakdown. Then it is being asked from the audience to what degree the government has the responsibility of not making legislation and policies which can be copied and abused by other countries, like the way companies are not allowed to deliver certain dual use equipment to certain countries. Van Gemert tells that for some goods there are indeed UN sanctions lists: the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) verifies this. A free internet abroad is mainly supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Generally speaking, a democratic society always needs to abide to a moral guideline. Then the discussion about possible government powers to hack computers in foreign countries comes to life again among the audience. In this context, does the permission of an examining magistrate offer sufficient protection against abuse? Someone else in the audience remarks that, nowadays in the area of phone-tapping, the examining magistrate has become some sort of rubber-stamping device. Someone remarks that Van Gemert's distinction of five domains of warfare is put too simply. In international law, traditionally there are only three domains of warfare: land, sea and air. Since the 1970's, in space the principle of 'peaceful use of outer space' applies. So why not introduce a similar new principle of 'peaceful use of cyberspace?'

In reaction to a question about guaranteeing privacy, Van Gemert replies that he attaches importance to clarity over what is and what isn't allowed. Through investigative powers sometimes one's innocence can also be proved. Brenno de WinterThe challenge is finding the balance between cyber security and privacy, Van Gemert says. Then someone in the audience points to the dangers of the coupling of personal data and function creep. Our democratic constitutional State is no invariable matter of fact. Does the government take this into account? Van Gemert iterates that the challenge is in finding the right balance. Calls for new legislation by parliament after an incident are not always adhered to by the government, for instance when it concerns anti-terrorism legislation and emergency legislation. Then someone in the audience states that for a raid a search warrant is required, which is verifiable for the citizen. This verifiability is absent when hacking into a computer. Van Gemert responds by saying that such verifiability is equally missing when it comes to phone tapping or police observation, especially when it's a case that's not brought to court. In this respect, De Winter remarks that neither the existing compulsory notification is complied to by the government. From the audience it is added that through all registration measures the presumption of innocence of citizens is put under pressure. This changes society and makes people start to comply with an 'all-seeing government'. As a response, Van Gemert underlines once more that 'privacy and security cannot do without each other'. In his view these sorts of discussions are important to get more clarity and to be able to make steps forward. Finally, Van Gemert stresses the importance of a security concept in cyber space with sufficient attention to privacy.

Finally

De Winter gives the final word to the Privacy First Foundation. Chairman Bas Filippini thanks Van Gemert for his open attitude toward the opposition. In the view of Privacy First, discussions such as these are fundamental. In recent years there has been too little dialogue with the privacy movement; the government has grown bigger while participation by citizens has decreased. Privacy First is happy to accept the invitation to become part of the coalition. "We will be a necessary irritant, but you have to be able to deal with that", Filippini concludes.Wil van Gemert and Bas Filippini

Published in Meta-Privacy
Friday, 13 April 2012 16:11

Save the internet from the U.S.

The following (translated) call reached us this week from Avaaz (in Dutch) and is fully supported by Privacy First:

‘‘At this very moment, the American Congress wants to secretly adopt a legislative proposal which enables them to spy on internet users everywhere in the world, hoping the world won’t notice it. Last time around we contributed to the fight against the attack on the internet, now let’s do it again.

Over a 100 Congress members support the legislative proposal (CISPA) which grants private businesses and the American government the right to spy on every one of us, at any given moment and for as long as they want without the need for a warrant. This is the third time the American Congress tries to attack our internet freedom. We helped defeat the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) – now we can defeat this new ‘Big Brother law’.

Our global indignation has previously played a leading role in protecting the internet against governments that want to track and control us online. Let’s once more stand united and thwart this law for good. Sign the petition and forward it to anyone who uses the internet: http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_cispa

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) determines that in a mere case of suspicion of a cyber threat, companies that allow us internet access have the right to collect information about our online activities, to share this information with the government and to refuse notifying us about this. Afterwards they enjoy immunity from prosecution for privacy violations or whichever other illegal activity it may concern. This implies an insane dismantling of the privacy we all have faith in during our daily habits of sending emails, having Skype chats, performing search actions, etc.

But we know the American Congress is afraid of the world’s reaction. It is the third time that they put the attack on our internet freedom in a new jacket in order to push it through after all. The name of the law is repeatedly being changed in the hope that citizens won’t notice it. NGOs that deal with internet rights, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have already condemned the legislative proposal on account of violation of privacy protection. It’s time for us to speak out.

Sign the petition for Congress against CISPA. As soon as we have 250.00 signatures we will hand over our petition to every one of the 100 American representatives who support this law: http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_cispa

Every day internet freedom has to endure the threats from governments from all over the world, but the US can cause the greatest damage since most of the internet’s infrastructure is situated there. Time and again our movement has proved that global public opinion contributes to stopping the US from threatening our internet. Let’s do this again.’’

Published in Online Privacy
Friday, 08 October 2010 22:17

The Fair Information Principles

The general philosophy of the Fair Information Principles

1. Notice/Awareness

The most fundamental principle is notice. Consumers should be given notice of an entity's information practices before any personal information is collected from them. Without notice, a consumer cannot make an informed decision as to whether and to what extent to disclose personal information. Moreover, three of the other principles discussed below -- choice/consent, access/participation, and enforcement/redress -- are only meaningful when a consumer has notice of an entity's policies, and his or her rights with respect thereto.

While the scope and content of notice will depend on the entity's substantive information practices, notice of some or all of the following have been recognized as essential to ensuring that consumers are properly informed before divulging personal information:

  • identification of the entity collecting the data;
  • identification of the uses to which the data will be put;
  • identification of any potential recipients of the data;
  • the nature of the data collected and the means by which it is collected if not obvious (passively, by means of electronic monitoring, or actively, by asking the consumer to provide the information);
  • whether the provision of the requested data is voluntary or required, and the consequences of a refusal to provide the requested information; and
  • the steps taken by the data collector to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and quality of the data.

Some information practice codes state that the notice should also identify any available consumer rights, including: any choice respecting the use of the data; whether the consumer has been given a right of access to the data; the ability of the consumer to contest inaccuracies; the availability of redress for violations of the practice code; and how such rights can be exercised.

In the Internet context, notice can be accomplished easily by the posting of an information practice disclosure describing an entity's information practices on a company's site on the Web. To be effective, such a disclosure should be clear and conspicuous, posted in a prominent location, and readily accessible from both the site's home page and any Web page where information is collected from the consumer. It should also be unavoidable and understandable so that it gives consumers meaningful and effective notice of what will happen to the personal information they are asked to divulge.

2. Choice/Consent

The second widely-accepted core principle of fair information practice is consumer choice or consent. At its simplest, choice means giving consumers options as to how any personal information collected from them may be used. Specifically, choice relates to secondary uses of information -- i.e., uses beyond those necessary to complete the contemplated transaction. Such secondary uses can be internal, such as placing the consumer on the collecting company's mailing list in order to market additional products or promotions, or external, such as the transfer of information to third parties.

Traditionally, two types of choice/consent regimes have been considered: opt-in or opt-out. Opt-in regimes require affirmative steps by the consumer to allow the collection and/or use of information; opt-out regimes require affirmative steps to prevent the collection and/or use of such information. The distinction lies in the default rule when no affirmative steps are taken by the consumer. Choice can also involve more than a binary yes/no option. Entities can, and do, allow consumers to tailor the nature of the information they reveal and the uses to which it will be put. Thus, for example, consumers can be provided separate choices as to whether they wish to be on a company's general internal mailing list or a marketing list sold to third parties. In order to be effective, any choice regime should provide a simple and easily-accessible way for consumers to exercise their choice.

In the online environment, choice easily can be exercised by simply clicking a box on the computer screen that indicates a user's decision with respect to the use and/or dissemination of the information being collected. The online environment also presents new possibilities to move beyond the opt-in/opt-out paradigm. For example, consumers could be required to specify their preferences regarding information use before entering a Web site, thus effectively eliminating any need for default rules.

3. Access/Participation

Access is the third core principle. It refers to an individual's ability both to access data about him or herself -- i.e., to view the data in an entity's files -- and to contest that data's accuracy and completeness. Both are essential to ensuring that data are accurate and complete. To be meaningful, access must encompass timely and inexpensive access to data, a simple means for contesting inaccurate or incomplete data, a mechanism by which the data collector can verify the information, and the means by which corrections and/or consumer objections can be added to the data file and sent to all data recipients.

4. Integrity/Security

The fourth widely accepted principle is that data be accurate and secure. To assure data integrity, collectors must take reasonable steps, such as using only reputable sources of data and cross-referencing data against multiple sources, providing consumer access to data, and destroying untimely data or converting it to anonymous form.

Security involves both managerial and technical measures to protect against loss and the unauthorized access, destruction, use, or disclosure of the data. Managerial measures include internal organizational measures that limit access to data and ensure that those individuals with access do not utilize the data for unauthorized purposes. Technical security measures to prevent unauthorized access include encryption in the transmission and storage of data; limits on access through use of passwords; and the storage of data on secure servers or computers that are inaccessible by modem.

5. Enforcement/Redress

It is generally agreed that the core principles of privacy protection can only be effective if there is a mechanism in place to enforce them. Absent an enforcement and redress mechanism, a fair information practice code is merely suggestive rather than prescriptive, and does not ensure compliance with core fair information practice principles.

 

 

The Fair Information Principles as put into Canadian Law

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These principles are usually referred to as “fair information principles”.

They are included in the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), Canada’s private-sector privacy law, and called "Privacy Principles".

Privacy Principles

Principle 1 — Accountability

An organization is responsible for personal information under its control and shall designate an individual or individuals who are accountable for the organization’s compliance with the following principles.

Principle 2 — Identifying Purposes

The purposes for which personal information is collected shall be identified by the organization at or before the time the information is collected.

Principle 3 — Consent

The knowledge and consent of the individual are required for the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information, except where inappropriate.

Principle 4 — Limiting Collection

The collection of personal information shall be limited to that which is necessary for the purposes identified by the organization. Information shall be collected by fair and lawful means.

Principle 5 — Limiting Use, Disclosure, and Retention

Personal information shall not be used or disclosed for purposes other than those for which it was collected, except with the consent of the individual or as required by law. Personal information shall be retained only as long as necessary for the fulfilment of those purposes.

Principle 6 — Accuracy

Personal information shall be as accurate, complete, and up-to-date as is necessary for the purposes for which it is to be used.

Principle 7 — Safeguards

Personal information shall be protected by security safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the information.

Principle 8 — Openness

An organization shall make readily available to individuals specific information about its policies and practices relating to the management of personal information.

Principle 9 — Individual Access

Upon request, an individual shall be informed of the existence, use, and disclosure of his or her personal information and shall be given access to that information. An individual shall be able to challenge the accuracy and completeness of the information and have it amended as appropriate.

Principle 10 — Challenging Compliance

An individual shall be able to address a challenge concerning compliance with the above principles to the designated individual or individuals accountable for the organization’s compliance.

 

Published in Philosophy
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