Governments are using the pandemic to crack down on digital rights, report finds

The Freedom on the Net 2020 report, an assessment of 65 countries released Wednesday, found that the pandemic has accelerated a decline in free speech and privacy on the internet for the tenth consecutive year, and accused some governments of using the virus as a pretext to crack down on critical speech.

“The pandemic is accelerating society’s reliance on digital technologies at a time when the internet is becoming less and less free,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, which is funded by the US government. “Without adequate safeguards for privacy and the rule of law, these technologies can be easily repurposed for political repression.”

Amid the pandemic, internet connectivity has become a lifeline to essential information and services — from education platforms, to health care portals, employment opportunities and social interactions. But state and nonstate actors are also exploiting the crisis to erode freedoms online.
Nowhere has
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Argentina is using facial recognition system that tracks child suspects, Human Rights Watch says

Publishing such information violates the Convention of the Rights of the Child, a U.N. agreement to which Argentina is a signatory, that says a child’s privacy should be respected at all stages of legal proceedings, said Hye Jung Han, a researcher and advocate in the children’s rights division at Human Rights Watch, who was the lead researcher on the report.

Argentina’s embassy in Washington did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

On a visit to Argentina in May 2019, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy warned the Argentine government that CONARC’s database contained 61 children. By that October Argentina’s justice ministry said there was no children’s data in CONARC. But the report contends the practice continued after the U.N. visit, with 25 additional children added to the database.

An HRW review of CONARC also saw that the public information about the children was peppered

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Prop 24, the California Privacy Rights Act Receives Support From 77% Of Likely California Voters

Prop 24, the California Privacy Rights Act Receives Support From 77% Of Likely California Voters

PR Newswire

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 6, 2020

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today the YES on Prop 24 campaign released polling results from Goodwin Simon Strategic Research showing that voters continue to overwhelmingly support Prop 24, the California Privacy Rights Act on the November ballot, with 77% of likely voters saying they will vote YES on the ballot measure.

Yes on Privacy, Yes on Prop 24 (PRNewsfoto/Californians for Consumer Priva)
Yes on Privacy, Yes on Prop 24 (PRNewsfoto/Californians for Consumer Priva)

Voters are demanding privacy rights and that’s exactly what we’re giving them in Prop 24- that’s why it has 77% support.

Even more telling is that despite negative campaigning by the opposition, only 11% of voters oppose the measure – the same number as when the last poll was taken in July.

“It’s crystal clear that voters are demanding privacy rights, and

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Wildlife conservation undermines the rights of indigenous people and local communities in India

Wildlife conservation undermines the rights of indigenous people and local communities in India
Featured map in the EJAtlas. Credit: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

An interactive map developed by the Environmental Justice Atlas team at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) reveals that certain forms of wildlife conservation undermine the rights of indigenous people and local communities living within protected areas across India.


The interactive map, led by ICTA-UAB researcher Eleonora Fanari and carried out in collaboration with India’s environmental organization Kalpavriksh, has been launched during the India’s National Wildlife Week. The map is a product of three years of extensive research covering 26 protected areas, carried out in association with numerous organizations, activists and independent scholars, struggling against violations across the ground and in the courts.

A strict protect-and-conserve model, favored by a powerful Indian conservation lobby, has increased the network of protected areas from 67 in 1988 to 870 in 2020. However, these lands

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France’s Data Privacy Watchdog Beefs up Consent Rights Over Ad Trackers | Technology News

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s data privacy watchdog CNIL recommended on Thursday that websites operating in the country should keep a register of internet users’ refusal to accept online trackers known as cookies for at least six months.

In specifying a registration timeframe, the guideline goes beyond European Union-wide data privacy rules adopted two years ago, adding an extra hurdle that a data protection lawyer said would put some of the companies exploiting such tools to target advertising out of business.

Under the CNIL guideline, which the watchdog said must be adopted by March, internet users have the right to withdraw their consent on cookies – small pieces of data stored while navigating on the Web – at any time and they can refuse trackers when they go on a website.

“The internet user’s silence actually implies a refusal (to accept cookies),” said Etienne Drouard of American-British law firm Hogan Lovells.

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Palantir’s ICE Contracts ‘Raise Human Rights Concerns’, Report Warns As Firm Prepares To Go Public

With Palantir Technologies Inc. prepared to go public this week through a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange, Amnesty International has released a report condemning the data-mining firm over “human rights concerns” raised by its contracts with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Titled Failing to Do Right: The Urgent Need for Palantir to Respect Human Rights, the report, which was released on Monday, concludes that Palantir is “failing to conduct human rights due diligence around its contracts with ICE,” a press release from Amnesty states.

As a result, the organization states, the company, which was co-founded by Peter Thiel, runs a “high risk” of “contributing to human rights violations of asylum-seekers and migrants through the ways

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Amnesty International slams Palantir’s human rights record

Amnesty International is criticizing Palantir’s human rights record a day before the secretive Silicon Valley technology startup is set to go public.

In a report on Monday, Amnesty singled out Palantir’s contracts with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Palantir’s software allows ICE to build detailed profiles of people in a single location, drawing on existing ICE data, public records and active investigations. 

Amnesty says ICE has also used Palantir’s technology in arresting the parents of children who cross the border unaccompanied and to conduct massive workplace raids, such as a 2019 raid in Mississippi  that swept up nearly 700 workers.

The data company “has sought to deflect and minimize its responsibility to protect human rights,” Amnesty said, adding that “there is a high risk that Palantir is contributing to serious human rights violations of migrants and asylum-seekers.”

“Palantir touts its ethical commitments,

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