Cross-bor­der data con­trol

RISKSA Magazine - - News -

“POPI is very clear: it al­lows cross-bor­der trans­fers to any coun­try with sim­i­lar or bet­ter data pro­tec­tion leg­is­la­tion,” says Luyt. “South Africa has very good con­trols on in­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions mon­i­tor­ing us­ing RICA. How­ever, like the USA, as soon as your com­mu­ni­ca­tion leaves the coun­try, gov­ern­ments can do what­ever they please with your com­mu­ni­ca­tions,” adds Sil­ber. This was re­vealed by Snow­den in­di­cat­ing that as soon as your in­for­ma­tion moves out­side of the USA onto for­eign data­bases, you are es­sen­tially free game: “well be­haved at home, free for all once you get out­side.” “We are be­ing mon­i­tored (on a global scale), both on a per­sonal and a cor­po­rate level. Based on rev­e­la­tions re­gard­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency (NSA) and the Gov­ern­ment Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Head­quar­ters (GCHQ), un­less you are tak­ing very mea­sured steps to pro­tect your pri­vacy, there is a good chance your data could be ac­cessed in one form or another by a gov­ern­ment agency,” elab­o­rates Van de Cool­wijk. “En­crypt­ing your data may not even be enough: con­cerns have been raised around some soft­ware en­cryp­tion com­pa­nies pro­vid­ing gov­ern­ment agen­cies with back­door ac­cess to en­crypted data.” “In fact, con­sid­er­ing how of­ten we use Amer­i­can or Chi­nese hard­ware, soft­ware and online plat­forms, their gov­ern­ments are likely to be far more ac­tive in in­ter­cept­ing our per­sonal data than ours.” This raises another per­ti­nent ques­tion: what are the terms and con­di­tions on the sites you are us­ing? Too of­ten, In­ter­net users will tick boxes with­out read­ing the fine print in or­der to speed up the brows­ing process. Ef­fec­tively they are then giv­ing up their own rights to pri­vacy. The ad­vice is sim­ple. “Check the de­fault set­tings and un­der­stand what you are agree­ing to and specif­i­cally how it im­pacts you,” says Sil­ber.

De­fense against the dark arts

In­ter­net pri­vacy is­sues are cer­tainly mak­ing a real case for con­spir­acy the­o­rists, where whistle­blow­ers are be­ing tar­geted more than ever un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. Mass sur­veil­lance for na­tional se­cu­rity has its place, but where gov­ern­ments start over­step­ping their bound­aries, or where peo­ple travel to less lib­eral coun­tries, sur­veil­lance could prove ex­tremely harm­ful to cit­i­zens’ po­lit­i­cal and com­mer­cial free­dom. Our ex­perts men­tion some of the cau­tion­ary mea­sures that will fly in the face of mass sur­veil­lance: • Be wary when trans­fer­ring data to coun­try’s with less well-de­vel­oped pri­vacy poli­cies than South Africa (China and the Mid­dle East for ex­am­ple). • Be aware that hard­ware can also be hacked. Con­sider trav­el­ing with a clean lap­top or avoid buy­ing hard­ware from non-rep­utable hard­ware man­u­fac­tur­ers. • In­crease the pri­vacy set­tings on your so­cial

net­works. • Treat e-mail as if it is a post­card and not a

sealed en­ve­lope. • Un­der­stand the level of se­cu­rity of cer­tain Apps by do­ing some sim­ple re­search: for ex­am­ple, Skype is far more se­cure than What­sApp. • Un­der­stand that not only are telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion com­pa­nies obliged to give up your in­for­ma­tion to gov­ern­ment; in South Africa they are also not per­mit­ted to tell you how many times your records have been ac­cessed. “At the mo­ment, most of us rely on ‘se­cu­rity through ob­scu­rity’. If you are deal­ing with highly sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion, you should use a VPN tun­nel, en­cryp­tion or, at the very least, file it. But re­mem­ber, any­thing can be bro­ken, even the best en­cryp­tions, given enough time and a pow­er­ful enough ma­chine. The ques­tion is how im­por­tant is the pro­tec­tion of this data, given the time you need to ap­ply se­cu­rity mea­sures? For­tu­nately, af­ter the Snow­den rev­e­la­tions, many peo­ple are start­ing to take In­ter­net se­cu­rity more se­ri­ously,” adds Sil­ber. Hunter ad­vises ac­cess­ing tu­to­ri­als on en­cryp­tion and se­cu­rity from the Elec­tronic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion’s Sur­veil­lance Self De­fense guide online. [http://ssd.eff.org/]

“We are be­ing mon­i­tored (on a global scale), both on a per­sonal

and a cor­po­rate level... ... un­less you are tak­ing very mea­sured steps to pro­tect your pri­vacy, there is a good chance your data could be ac­cessed in one form or

another by a gov­ern­ment agency.”

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