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[liberationtech] Call for Comments on Privacy for the OpenGov Guide

Yosem Companys companys at
Mon Feb 10 14:00:04 PST 2014

​Governments collect significant amounts of data about citizens, and an 
urgent debate is emerging about how to protect the human right to privacy 
while enhancing government openness. Privacy was one of the ‘thorny issues’<>raised 
at the Open Government Summit in 2013 

Protecting the privacy of individuals can mean tensions in implementing 
open data and right to information commitments – for example in determining 
to what extent personal data such as subsidies, taxes, registers and 
judicial documents should be published, and in ensuring that anonymised 
data stays anonymous. At the same time privacy should not be used as a 
blanket excuse to hinder transparency. 

Lack of privacy (such as anonymous internet access) can also hinder access 
to information, and has a chilling impact on freedom of expression.  The 
recent revelation of mass internet surveillance programmes by several 
industrialized nations in particular underscores the need for greater 
transparency and accountability about the ways that governments gather and 
use information about individuals. 

To support governments and civil society in considering how to address 
privacy issues in their national Open Government Action Plans, a new topic 
is being added to The Guide. It has been developed by Privacy International<> who 
have proposed as series of ‘initial’, ‘intermediate’, ‘advanced’ and 
‘innovative’ commitments:

Initial steps

   - Publish educational material about the importance of protecting 
   personal information 
   - Publish all laws setting out the surveillance powers of law 
   enforcement and intelligence agencies 

Intermediate steps

   - Enact data protection legislation
   - Repeal any requirements compelling the identification of phone or 
   internet users

Advanced steps

   - Publish transparency reports about access to communications data and 
   surveillance activities 
   - Reform legislation relating to surveillance by state agencies to 
   ensure it complies with the International Principles on the Application of 
   Human Rights to Communications Surveillance 

Intermediate steps

   - Establish a public oversight body responsible for ensuring that all 
   new technologies and techniques adopted by police and public security 
   agencies comport with the right to privacy 

More details of the recommendations for each step are in the attached 
where we invite you add comments to the text. In particular, we woud value 
your thoughts on the following:

   - Are the headline illustrative commitments realistic and stretching at 
   each of the levels? If not, please suggest how they should be changed. 
   - Are there any significant gaps in the illustrative commitments? Please 
   suggest any additional commitments you feel should be included. 
   - Are the recommendations clear and useful? Please suggest any 
   alterations you feel should be made. 
   - Are there particular country experiences that could be added? (these 
   do not have to imply best practice or endorsement, but examples in 
   practice) Please suggest any good examples you are aware of (with links to 
   any resources). 
   - Are there any particularly useful resources missing? If so, please 
   point us towards them. 

You can comment on the document itself, or as a comment to this blog post. 
You can also send any thoughts via info at<>. 
Please add your comments by February 28th , to be incorporated in the next 
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