On the Record edited by Annie Harrison

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Privacy Advocates Meet In Mexico City

A coalition of civil society groups have been meeting in Mexico city this week to review the Madrid Privacy Declaration and look at international privacy laws. The gathering was organized by The Public Voice and held in conjunction with the 33rd Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners Conference which took place today. The Public Voice event included a number of nonprofit organizations that promote privacy and free expression on the Internet. Katitza Rodriguez, International Rights Director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), presented at the conference. Katitza and I wrote about the event on the EFF Deep Links blog.

The Madrid Declaration was drafted two years ago to set international standards for Internet privacy. The Public Voice gathering looked at strategies for expanding these protections and examined current privacy laws in Latin America and around the world. It reviewed surveillance technologies such as facial recognition applications, employment verification programs, automobile black boxes and smart meters that track electricity usage.

Privacy threats are particularly serious in Latin America where many democratically elected governments don't respect basic human rights. Government officials and intelligence agencies conduct illegal surveillance and misuse interception technologies to spy on politicians, dissidents, judges, human rights organizations and activists. Katitza and I have been examining cases involving revealed surveillance systems in Paraguay, Panama and Colombia that are used to identify, control and stifle dissent.

Civil society must show the world how surveillance technologies impact human rights and freedom of expression. We can help pressure governments in Latin America and the rest of the world to pass laws that provide meaningful privacy protections.

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