November 25, 2013 | Javier Ruiz

Open government groups demand curbs on mass surveillance

ORG joins dozens of civil society organisations in asking governments that participate in the Open Government Partnership to start curbing disproportionate mass surveillance.

The current wave of open government programmes puts a heavy emphasis on the use of digital technologies - websites and smartphones - to deliver on transparency and accountability. In this context, it is particularly troubling that as many of these governments drive democratic engagement online, they are simultaneously tracking and analysing the behaviour of whole populations.

The UK has just hosted the Open Government Partnership summit, where dozens of governments from all continents launched commitments to improve transparency, engagement and accountability. ORG coordinated a session on surveillance that generated a lot of interest. You can see the video here:

The British government has been leading calls for more open data to improve transparency and accountability. The UK even launched an Open Data Charter at this year's G8 summit. Yet the UK is also at the forefront of global surveillance through its close partnership with the US. This inconsistency is unsustainable.

The joint statements calls on OGP governments to:

  • recognise the need to update understandings of existing privacy and human rights law to reflect modern surveillance technologies and techniques.
  • commit in their OGP Action Plans to complete by October 2014 a review of national laws, with the aim of defining reforms needed to regulate necessary, legitimate and proportional State involvement in communications surveillance; to guarantee freedom of the press; and to protect whistleblowers who lawfully reveal abuses of state power.
  • commit in their OGP Action Plans to transparency on the mechanisms for surveillance, on exports of surveillance technologies, aid directed towards implementation of surveillance technologies, and agreements to share citizen data among states.

We urge David Cameron to heed this call.

The full text of the statement is here.

Comments (1)

  1. Mark :
    Dec 06, 2013 at 01:38 AM

    I found a really interesting article on the metro today that directed me towards your site. I found it on Twitter this morning . Im not sure to what extent it is true but a great read all the same