As noted by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“a lack of effective oversight has contributed to a lack of accountability for arbitrary or unlawful intrusions on the right to privacy in the digital environment. Internal safeguards without independent, external monitoring in particular have proven ineffective against unlawful or arbitrary surveillance methods. While these safeguards may take a variety of forms, the involvement of all branches of government in the oversight of surveillance programmes, as well as of an independent civilian oversight agency, is essential to ensure the effective protection of the law.” (United Nations, P: 2, 2016).
This here is evident that State and Government uses their force with their communication surveillance without transparent or use of the legal aide to gain data on their own citizens and also their communications. That means the data and meta-data we leave behind can be stored and checked by the security agencies, where they can surveillance and follow us to secure that we are not misusing or contacting wrong people. This can indirectly make people guilty before conducting crimes. The Police and Security Agencies than can follow and investigate without warrants or court-orders citizens without any jurisdiction. Therefore the real big-brother can follow all communication and use this as evidence of conspiracy and criminal intent if needed be. This information can again be delivered in reports to Central Government that will again take the whole groups of people as a den of thieves instead of activist and political opposition.
This sort of work can and will often cross the belief of a difference between a private and public sphere. Where the communications between citizens can be taken into account in investigations and that is done without knowledge of the citizens. So with that in mind, the United Nation Special Rapporteur on the rights of pricy briefing from November 2016 is telling stories on how this is done in dozens of nations. Their stories are not peaceful and the possible interference shows how their own citizens are shadowed by their own government. Just take a look!
“In Rwanda, interception warrants are issued by a prosecutor designed by the Minister of Justice. As such there is no requirement of prior judicial authorisation. Nor there seems to be independent judicial oversight on the application of the law: the only monitoring envisaged is by inspectors appointed by Presidential Order. The Human Rights Committee expressed concern that the law “permits the interception of communications without prior authorization of a judge” and recommended, inter alia, that the State party “ensure the effectiveness and independence of a monitoring system for such interception, in particular by providing for the judiciary to take part in the authorization and monitoring of the interception.” (United Nations, P: 3-4, 2016).
“In Zimbabwe, the Interception of Communications Act allows senior officials to individually make applications for warrants of interception. The applications are submitted to the Minister of Transport and Communications or “any other Minister to whom the President may from time to time assign the administration of [the] act”. Under the Act, the Minister is the sole arbiter of whether the grounds for a warrant are met and determines the warrant’s duration, up to a period of three months (after which renewal requires the authorisation of an administrative court.) In 2014, using powers granted to him under the constitution, President Mugabe assigned the Act’s administration to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC). There is no public information on how these functions are exercised in practice within the OPC, which is an executive body led by the President and the Head of the Civil Service” (United Nations, P: 4, 2016). “In Zimbabwe, the only oversight of the warrant regime comes from Prosecutor-General, but there is secrecy surrounding the process. The Prosecutor-General receives an annual summary from the Minister detailing “the particulars of every warrant which, during that calendar year, was issued by him or her but not renewed.” However, this information is not made public in any form. The Prosecutor-General can also request additional information from the Minister and make binding recommendations to the Minister; however, these recommendations are not public. There is no additional mechanism for independent parliamentary or judicial oversight of the regime as a whole” (United Nations, P: 12, 2016).
“In New Zealand, there is no judicial prior authorisation for interception of communications or access to communications infrastructures. Instead the relevant warrant is authorised by the Minister. The Commissioner of Security Warrants, a retired judge, is only required to jointly authorise interception warrants when the communications of New Zealanders may be intercepted. Reflecting on this, the Human Rights Committee expressed concern “about the limited judicial authorization process for the interception of communications of New Zealanders and the total absence of such authorization for the interception of communications of non-New Zealanders” (United Nations, P: 4, 2016).
“Similarly in the United Kindgom, under the current RIPA there is no requirement for, or process enabling, the prior independent authorisation of the interception of communications. Instead, a Government minister issues warrants without reference to any judicial or other independent authority. There is only qualified provision for judicial authorisation under RIPA for intrusive surveillance by police (but, notably, not the intelligence services), with regards to requests for encryption keys, and when local authorities seek access to communications data” (United Nations, P: 5, 2016). “In the United Kingdom, there are concerns about the Intelligence and Security Committee. The ISC lacks sufficient independence from the government: the Prime Minister has sole power to nominate MPs to the ISC. She also has power to veto publication of any material by the ISC. For these reasons, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights expressed “concern that the executive control of this Committee may be too strong” (United Nations, P: 10, 2016).
“In Venezuela, for example, although the decision to authorise communications surveillance is made by a judge, judges – particularly first instance judges who are often employed on temporary contracts – frequently lack independence and impartiality” (United Nations, P: 5, 2016).
“Considering the interception regime in Russia, the European Court of Human Rights noted that while interceptions may be authorized by a judge, there was no effective oversight, in particular in light of the lack “publicly available regulations or instructions describing the scope of their review, the conditions under which it may be carried out, the procedures for reviewing the surveillance measures or for remedying the breaches detected” (United Nations, P: 6, 2016).
“In Poland, there is no ex-ante review system for metadata collection, only a general ex-post requirement of submission once every six months of a generalized metadata report to a competent district court. Further, certain metadata information does not even require the ex-post review” (United Nations, P: 6, 2016)
“In Mexico. Articles 189 and 190 of the “Ley Telecom” impose a two year data retention requirements on telecommunications providers, requiring them to keep their users communications data. There is no judicial warrant requirement for accessing the metadata, and that includes in particular no judicial authorisation for mobile phone location tracking (which can be done in real time)” (United Nations, P: 8, 2016).
“In Morocco, there are at least eight government agencies that can potentially monitor communications. These services operate in near complete opacity. The Human Rights Committee expressed concerned at the lack of clarity regarding the law authorising and regulating the activity of such services and the lack of monitoring mechanisms” (United Nations, P: 9, 2016).
“In Uganda, despite increasing significantly the surveillance powers, there is no clear oversight mechanism under the 2010 Regulation of Interception of Communications Act or the 2015 Anti-Terrorism (Amended) Act in Uganda. None of the intelligence agencies with the power to conduct surveillance under these acts are subject to independent oversight however they all report to the President. Any reporting that may be conduced by the agencies to the President is not made public” (United Nations, P: 9, 2016).
“In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRM), long-standing concerns on the lack of effective supervision and control of the activities of the Macedonian Security and Counter Intelligence Service (UBK) to limit unlawful interference with the privacy of personal communications were brought into sharp focus in 2015, following the revelation that over 20,000 persons, including political figures, members of non-governmental organisations and journalists, were subjected to communication surveillance. The only body authorised to supervise the work of the UBK is a Parliamentary Commission. According to media reports, the UBK’s written reports to the Commission contained no data on the agency’s use of what are called “specific investigative measures”, such as eavesdropping” (United Nations, P: 10, 2016).
These stories give insight into how far the breaches are and how they are done in each country. Certain intelligence that are collected unfairly from the citizens and without permission, not even with court orders and put into structures that can be recollected by the ones who have been followed; this has been in secrecy and with knowledge even from the person with the most power. Those Presidents can interfere and collect this intelligence without having court orders or a warrant says a lot of their breaches of power and how they value the private communication. When they of using technology and using the interception of communication between people to find intelligence and collect their meta-data for later see the pattern of behaviour.
This shows how the National Security is using the private communication into collecting evidence and pattern of behaviour where they can oversee society and use this to detain and arrest dissidents. What is also worrying is in the power of the Executive and the Central Government who can easily access and take the collected data without the need of the Courts or legislative branches. Therefore this can be done in the dark and they can do this without consent or have any accountability for their work as they use surveillance to follow their own citizens.
This is just a few of the nations of the world. There are certainly more intelligence gathered without knowledge and where the UN Special Rapporteur has gotten know-how of. This briefing is only skimming the surface of what’s apparently going on. We as citizens should at least ask our own government to comply with freedoms and liberty, only use these technologies to incept meta-data and communications between people when courts and real National Security is at risk. Not just when they can, but when it is fit. If not then innocent people are followed without any concern and without any justice delivered. Peace.
United Nation – ‘Briefing to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy – Monitoring and Oversight of Communications Surveillance’ (November 2016)