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Workshop Proposals 2011


Workshop Number: 160 Jump to report

Title: Global Trends to Watch: The Erosion of Privacy and Anonymity and The Need of Transparency of Government Access Requests

Background paper: No Background Paper Uploaded


Concise Description:
At a time when individuals regularly turn to search engines, social networks and other Internet intermediaries to find information online, record their emotions on microblogs, share personal data with friends, store private and sensitive information such as email, use their mobile devices to connect and interact on the Internet, and save vast amounts of their information to the virtual “cloud,” digital privacy is of paramount importance. Yet research by social scientists has found that few Internet users fully understand how much information they are revealing about themselves and the potential impact this disclosure can have.

In addition, government agencies throughout the world are pushing for laws that force these online third party providers to collect and store more personal information that they need for the purposes of their business. Citizens groups and civil society organizations find these controversial laws invasive and overbroad, and some countries’ courts have struck down data retention laws unconstitutional.

Date retention legal obligations to log users’ Internet use are usually paired with provisions that allow the government to obtain those records, ultimately expanding governments’ ability to surveil their citizens. There are few centralized data sources that provide transparency on the number of government data requests.

Many online service providers follow the best practice of notifying users of a government request for information, thereby allowing users to effectuate their due process rights and contest any legal process. However, other service providers do not notify the users and some government requests for user information attempt to forbid notification. Without notification, due process protections for the information can become illusory.

Moreover, several government initiatives are investing in security research to analyze the wealth amount of information they are collecting though the Internet. For example, the European Union has launched the advanced profiling and automated threat detection research, named INDECT ( In the US, the CIA’s Open Source Center ( bills is monitoring, collecting and storing information from publicly accessible Internet sources such as blogs, chat rooms, and social networking sites.

A growing number of businesses have been built on modern surveillance technologies, seeking to predict and prevent not only crimes but also identify alleged future security risks. These technologies raise serious privacy and freedom of association concerns because the technology may bring the unnecessary and chilling government scrutiny on citizens engaged in legitimate opposition to government polices. Across the globe there have been numerous individuals whose lives have been endangered by information that has been collected through their use of technology.

The panel will offer a snapshot of current existing and proposed regulatory frameworks and aims to surface the potential risks, global trends, best and worst practices, details about the Cybercrime Convention, the mutual legal assistance treaties of gathering and exchanging information among countries, and the lack of transparency of governments’ access requests.

Which of the five broad IGF Themes or the Cross-Cutting Priorities does your workshop fall under?
Security, Openness and Privacy

Have you organized an IGF workshop before? Yes
If so, please provide the link to the report:

Provide the names and affiliations of the panellists you are planning to invite:
Vinton G. Cerf is vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google. Widely known as one of the "Fathers of the Internet," Cerf is the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet. With his colleague, Robert Kahn, Cerf received the U.S. National Medal of Technology in 1997 for co-founding and developing the Internet. They received the ACM Alan M. Turing award in 2004 for their work on the Internet protocols. In November 2005 they received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2008 they received the Japan Prize.

Vint Cerf served as chairman of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) from 2000-2007 and is a Fellow of the IEEE, ACM, and American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the International Engineering Consortium, the Computer History Museum and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Cerf holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Stanford University and Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from UCLA. He also holds honorary Doctorate degrees from 18 universities.

Amr Gharbeia is a leftist Egyptian blogger.
On May 29, 2007, a prosecutor interrogated him on charges of libel. The interrogation lasted for two hours and half, after which Amr was released on bail.
The prosecutor tried to force Gharbeia into handing out the IP addresses of readers who posted comments on his blog, but he refused. Gharbeia was told that he would be further interrogated later, but after his interrogation was delayed twice it was finally suspended. The case was decided against judge Mourad, who had requested the block of 51 Egyptian websites on behalf of libel.

Katitza Rodriguez is Electronic Frontier Foundation's international rights director. She concentrates on comparative policy of international privacy issues; with special emphasis on law enforcement, government surveillance, and cross border data flows. Her work in EFF's International Program also focuses on cybersecurity at the intersection of privacy, freedom of expression, and copyright enforcement. Before joining EFF, Katitza was director of the international privacy program at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington D.C., where amongst other things, she worked on The Privacy and Human Rights Report, an international survey of privacy law and developments. Katitza is well known to many in global civil society and in international policy venues for her pivotal role in the creation and ongoing success of the Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, for which she served as the civil society liaison while at EPIC from 2008 to March 2010. Katitza holds Bachelor degrees in Law and Political Science from the University of Lima, Peru.

Alexander Seger is the Head of Economic Crime Division of the Council of Europe
Alexander Seger has been with the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, France) since 1999. He is currently the Head of Economic Crime Division and responsible for the Council of Europe’s cooperation programmes against cybercrime, corruption and money laundering ( From 1989 to 1998 he was with what now is the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna (Austria), Laos and Pakistan and a consultant for German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) in drug control matters. Alexander Seger is from Germany and holds a PhD in political science, law and social anthropology after studies in Heidelberg, Bordeaux and Bonn.

Christopher Soghoian is a Ph.D. Candidate in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University. Christopher Soghoian is a Washington, DC based Graduate Fellow at the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, and a Ph.D. Candidate in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University. His research is focused on the intersection of online privacy, law and public policy. Although a computer scientist by training, he has used the Freedom of Information Act and several other investigative techniques to expose the methods and scale of law enforcement surveillance of Internet communications and mobile telephones. He was the first ever in-house privacy technologist at the Federal Trade Commission, and has worked at Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California, NTT DoCoMo Euro Labs, Google, Apple and IBM Research Zurich.

Katarzyna Szymielewicz is a human rights lawyer and activist. Co-founder and executive director of the Panoptykon Foundation – a Polish NGO defending human rights in the context of modern surveillance and a member of European Digital Rights. A graduate of the University of Warsaw (Law) and the School of Oriental and African Studies (Development Studies). A member of the International Commission of Jurists (Polish section) and Internet Society.

Remote Moderator:
Researcher on Development and Intellectual Property at the Centre for Technology and Society (CTS/FGV) from Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) School of Law in Rio de Janeiro, where she teaches at the Graduate School, manages the project A2K Brasil and acts as civil society representative at Stearing Committees from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Lawyer and bachellor in International Relations, she has a Master in Law and Development at the Sao Paulo Law School of Fundação Getúlio Vargas (EDESP/FGV), when she developed the research: “Trajectory of the Juridical Institutional Framework for the Software Sector in Brazil and India: identities, differences and repercussions.”
Specialist in Intellectual Property and in Law and New Technologies, she is also an associate researcher from research centres: Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento (CEBRAP) and Observatory of Innovation and Competitiveness from the Institute of Advanced Studies (IEA-USP), focusing in the fields of institutional development, knowledge economy and innovation. Among the most recent publications: “Juridical Institutional Framework for the Software Sector in Brazil” in “Inovation: studies from young Brazilian researchers” (2010) and, in co-authorship with Prof Dr. Glauco Arbix: “Finland: competitiveness and knowledge economy” (2009), published by IPEA and “Finland: a jump towards knowledge economy” in “Innovation Strategies from 7 countries” (2010), published by the Brazilian Agency of Industrial Development (ABDI).

Provide the name of the organizer(s) of the workshop and their affiliation to various stakeholder groups:
Katitza Rodriguez, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF): From the Internet to the iPod, technologies are transforming our society and empowering us as speakers, citizens, creators, and consumers. When our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the first line of defense. EFF broke new ground when it was founded in 1990 — well before the Internet was on most people's radar — and continues to confront cutting-edge issues defending free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights today. From the beginning, EFF has championed the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights.

Blending the expertise of lawyers, policy analysts, activists, and technologists, EFF achieves significant victories on behalf of consumers and the general public. EFF fights for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the US government or large corporations. By mobilizing more than 61,000 concerned citizens through our Action Center, EFF beats back bad legislation. In addition to advising policymakers, EFF educates the press and public.

Katarzyna Szymielewicz, Panoptykon Foundation. Panoptykon Foundation's mission is to protect human rights, in particular the right to privacy, in the clash with modern technology used for surveillance purposes. We want to analyse the risks associated with the operation of modern surveillance systems, monitor the actions of both public and private entities in this and intervene when human rights or democratic values are threatened. We are not opposed to the use of modern technology. However, what we do care about is the preparation of legal solutions that will strike a balance between competing values, such as security and freedom. We do believe that aspirations to increase public security or broadly conceived efficiency should not be pursued at the cost of the right to privacy and individual freedom. Our aim is to provoke social discussion on the reasons, signs and consequences of this phenomenon.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Organization:Electronic Frontier Foundation

Contact Person: Katitza Rodriguez

Reported by: Electronic Frontier Foundation and Panoptikon Foundation

Additional Documents: link

A brief substantive summary and the main events that were raised:
This panel discussion at the Internet Governance Forum in Kenya offered a snapshot of existing and proposed regulatory frameworks for Internet privacy. It looked at potential risks, global trends, best and worst practices. Panelists examined the Cybercrime Convention, and the need for transparency in government requests for access to personal data.

A comprehensive report is attached to this page.

Conclusions and further comments:
Internet users’ privacy is increasingly at risk as millions of users utilize social networks, blogs, and other cloud computing services whose function depends on obtaining and storing personal information. Recent cases from all over the world demonstrate that users’ private data is not properly protected against misuse and exploitation by corporate entities and governments. Many online service providers, especially ones that provide their services for free, have designed their business model in a way that monetizes data to sell and display targeted ads on their pages. This stored information remains vulnerable to third parties that may use it to profile and target individuals.

As consumers have embraced cloud computing and mobile technologies, law enforcement agencies have followed. Law enforcement agencies can gain access to users’ records, some times without a court-issued warrant, nor a notification to the users themselves. The issue of state surveillance is most prominent in authoritarian or totalitarian regimes.

Mandatory data retention regimes were also criticized during the session. This regime forces online third party providers to unnecessarily log users’ personal information alongside legal provisions allowing state agencies easy access to these records.

The Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Convention has extensively assisted countries that ratified the treaty in implementing its provisions into national law, but it also effectively served as a policy guideline for states developing similar national legislation to combat threats of cybercrime in their respective countries. While the Treaty is more specific on increased law enforcement powers, it remains vague in outlining privacy protections and standards ensuring that those law enforcement powers are not abused. States must become more transparent in their processes in obtaining user data and educate their citizens on the importance of digital privacy. Policy makers have much to do to improve regulations in a way that will respect user’s fundamental rights on the Internet for the years to come.