The Electronic Frontier Foundation has joined a global coalition of 65 organizations in support of groups in Paraguay, who are urging their legislators to reject a mandatory data retention bill outright. The bill, to be voted on Thursday June 4th, would compel local ISPs to retain communications and location details of every user for a period of 12 months. Such retention would violate international human rights standards and Paraguayans’ basic privacy rights.
Paraguayan Internet users have been calling the bill “Pyrawebs,” alluding to the digital version of pyragües, informers who monitored the civilian population movements, meetings, political preferences, religious orientation and more on behalf of ex-dictator, Alfredo Stroessner who ruled between 1954 and 1989.
The bill was introduced last year under the flimsy pretext that this measure is urgently needed to prevent crime. These weak, but often-repeated arguments, are a tried and tested technique, fomenting a culture of fear of ceaseless war on terror in order to justify arbitrary and disproportionate incursions on civil liberties. We've read about it in George Orwell's 1984, we've heard about it being practiced by oppressive regimes, and now we're witnessing it in democratic countries like Paraguay.
If you are Paraguayan, contact your senator and express your major concerns with Pyrawebs. You can use EFF's action tool or tweet at Congress directly with the hashtag #Pyrawebs. If you are outside Paraguay, use #Pyrawebs to spread the word about Pyrawebs' issues.
The full letter is below:
INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY ACTION
Open letter to the Senate from Paraguay
June 1st, 2015,
Honorable Senate of the Republic of Paraguay:
We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to reject the proposed bill that "establishes the obligation to retain traffic data" introduced by Senators Fernando Silva Facetti, Roberto Acevedo, Arnaldo Giuzzio and Arnoldo Wiens.This bill, which was rejected unanimously by the Chamber of Deputies on March 12, has been sent to the Senate for its approval or rejection.
If adopted, the bill will force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to store users' data for a period of twelve months. The data collected would include the source and destination of all communications, the time and date of all connection and disconnection logs, as well as details about the users' location and devices. This collection will track the online activities of millions of innocent users, and will be accessible to Paraguayan law enforcement as part of the investigation of any criminal offense.
This bill states that it does exclude the mass collection of the content of electronic communications. However, indiscriminate collection of "traffic" data and the cross-referencing of this information can reveal far more sensitive information than the bill's proponents have suggested in remarks to the media. Traffic data provides sufficient context to determine some of the most intimate details of the lives of Paraguayans, including where they live, work and the places they regularly visit. It can reveal their lists of friends and associations, their online habits, their personal preferences in every part of their private and political lives.
Civil society organizations, journalists, lawyers, online security experts, and human rights activists have recognized that the state has the obligation to investigate and punish the perpetrators of criminal offenses, online and offline. However, this bill does far more than just that. It radically transforms the legal basis for conducting surveillance.
With this bill, Paraguay would pass from a legal system where the authorization of communication surveillance is based on individualized suspicion following the commission of a criminal offense, to a system where surveillance is massive, non-selective, and conducted without any suspicion of criminal intent. The authorization to surveil would become a 'blank check' that would allow the collection of data of innocent individuals under the presumption that it should be available for future use by the authorities.
Conducting surveillance on the communications of innocent people as described in the proposed bill is a disproportionate and unnecessary measure in a democratic society where the rule of law must be respected. The bill fails to distinguish any situation when targeted surveillance might be justified or not, thus granting unchecked and excessive powers to intrude into the private lives of all Paraguayans. Furthermore, safeguards required by international law have not been included in the bill, including minimum guarantees for the protection of the privacy of individuals and their personal data.
In conclusion, this bill ignores the basic guarantees required by international human rights law. Its adoption will result in the violation of the right to freedom of expression and privacy, as enshrined in Paraguay's Constitution. For these reasons, we call on the Paraguayan legislature to reject the traffic data retention bill outright.
Latin American Organizations
- ACI-Participa (Honduras)
- ARTIGO 19 (Brasil)
- Asociación por los Derechos Civiles - ADC (Argentina)
- Associção Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (Brasil)
- Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social, Cencos (México)
- DATA Uruguay (Uruguay)
- Derechos Digitales (América Latina)
- Espacio Público (Venezuela)
- Enjambre Digital (México)
- Foro de Periodismo Argentino - FOPEA (Argentina)
- Fundación Karisma (Colombia)
- Fundación Vía Libre (Argentina)
- Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa - FLIP (Colombia)
- Hiperderecho (Perú)
- Intervozes - Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação Social (Brasil)
- Instituto Beta Para Internet e Democracia – IBIDEM (Brasil)
- Instituto DEMOS (Guatemala)
- IPANDETEC - Instituto Panameño de Derecho y Nuevas Tecnologías (Panamá)
- ISOC CAPITULO PARAGUAY (Paraguay)
- Movimento Mega (Brasil)
- R3D - Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (México)
- RedPaTodos (Colombia)
- SocialTIC (México)
- Son Tus Datos (México)
- Sursiendo (México)
- TEDIC — Tecnología & Comunidad (Paraguay)
- Usuarios Digitales de Ecuador (Ecuador)
Asian, African, European and North American Organizations
- Afghanistan Journalists Center (Afganistán)
- Africa Freedom of Information Centre (Africa)
- Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung (Alemania)
- Australian Privacy Foundation (Australia)
- Canadian Journalists for Free Expression - CJFE (Canadá)
- Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic - CIPPIC (Canadá)
- Center for Independent Journalism (Romania)
- Digitalcourage (Alemania)
- European Digital Rights - EDRI (Europa)
- Freedom Forum (Nepal)
- International Modern Media Institute- IMMI (Islandia)
- Institute for Studies on Free Flow of Information (Indonesia)
- Internet Policy Observatory (Pakistán)
- International Federation of Journalists (Asia Pacífico)
- IT-Political Association - IT-Pol (Denmark)
- La Quadrature du Net (Francia)
- Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (Australia)
- Media Foundation for West Africa (Africa del Oeste)
- Metamorphosis, Foundation for Internet and Society (Macedonia)
- Open Rights Group (Reino Unido)
- Open Net Korea (Corea del Sur)
- Palestinan Center for Development and Media Freedoms-MADA (Palestina)
- Panoptykon Foundation (Polonia)
- People Who Net (Estados Unidos)
- Privacy and Access Council of Canada (Canadá)
- PEN Canada (Canadá)
- Share Foundation - Share Defense (Sudeste de Europa)
- Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (Zimbabue)
- Access (Internacional)
- Association for Progressive Communications - APC (Internacional)
- Association of Caribbean Media Workers (Internacional)
- Code Red (Internacional)
- Electronic Frontier Foundation - EFF (Internacional)
- Globe International Center (Internacional)
- IPJustice (Internacional)
- Media Institute of Southern Africa (Internacional)
- OpenMedia.org (Internacional)
- Privacy International (Internacional)
- PEN International (Internacional)