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Privacy and data protection

2015

Freedom House has released Freedom on the Net 2015The publication reports a decline in Internet freedom around the world, as 'more governments censored information of public interest while also expanding surveillance and cracking down on privacy tools'. The report furthermore includes a ranking of countries according to their level of progress in creating freedom on the net.

The European Parliament has passed a resolution noting that the EU response to revelations of mass surveillance has been 'highly inadequate'. It also expressed concern about laws 'that extend surveillance capabilities of intelligence bodies' and calls on EU member states to to drop charges against Edward Snowden and grant him protection. Access Now summarises some of the latest legislative actions on surveillance and recommends that the European Commission and EU member states apply the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance.

In spite of open criticism by the academic communities and civil liberty groups of the cybersecurity CISA bill which would enable the government to collect sensitive personal information and endanger privacy, the bill was passed in the US Senate. The bill allows voluntary sharing of private information collected by the corporate sector with government agencies. The critics fear that the Freedom of Information Act is infringed by CISA, while the banking and telecommunications industries support the bill arguing it would "strengthen their cyber defenses by providing the liability protections needed to encourage the sharing" of information about threats, Guardian reports.

The US-EU Safe Harbour Framework was derailed on October 6th, by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Now, according to a National Law Review article,  'the Israeli Law, Information and Technology Authority (ILITA) has revoked its prior authorization for data transfers from Israel to the US that are based on Safe Harbor'. This will require that US companies review their privacy and data flow policies. 

California often leads the online world in Internet policy setting, because of the concentration of Internet industry located in this US state. Five new privacy laws intended to strenghthen privacy protections, were signed in October by California's governor Jerry Brown. Details are avialable in the Data Protection Report. Experts are waiting to see if other areas will follow suit.

Talk Talk, a British ISP, has warned 4 million of their customers that their credit card and banks details might have been stolen after a "significant and sustainable cyber attack" on Talk Talk's website. This is the third cyber-attack affecting the firm in the past 12 months. The firm has admitted that some of the customer data was not encrypted. Talk Talk now face the uphill battle of re-building consumer trust in their network.

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