SMEX Launches Inaugural Report on Digital Surveillance in Lebanon

Pic under creative commons license. Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/garryknight/2862391985

Photo by Garry Knight licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

In the absence of a comprehensive constitutional framework on privacy rights and data protection in Lebanon and amid a culture of secrecy around these issues, SMEX researched the country’s current digital surveillance landscape.

“Mapping the Landscape of Digital Surveillance in Lebanon,” presented below, is the first detailed survey on Lebanon’s state of privacy and surveillance. In it, we establish a baseline of knowledge on issues related to digital freedoms. In addition, we identify areas for policy reform and advocacy for privacy protection and legal frameworks that respect internationally recognized norms and best practices, as well as human and civil rights.

This report builds on our previous joint stakeholder report on  “The Right to Privacy in Lebanon” submitted as an element of the 23rd Universal Periodic Review in September 2015, and our research on digital rights legislation. “Mapping the Landscape of Digital Surveillance in Lebanon” introduces the most recent developments on the state of surveillance in Lebanon and raises new concerns around digital freedoms.

The report assembles knowledge about government privacy and surveillance practices in Lebanon, including legislation and policies, the main state actors engaging in some form of surveillance or monitoring of communications, and an overview of the surveillance technologies currently in use. SMEX also introduces the most recent draft of the Electronic Transactions and Personal Data law and a survey conducted by SMEX gauging public sentiment on surveillance in Lebanon.

Finally, we detail privacy concerns that recently surfaced, from biometric technology adopted for Lebanese passports to the mass surveillance of the streets of the capital, Beirut. We highlight these concerns to alert the public of their potential pitfalls and to call on journalists, lawyers, and activists to challenge these threats to the right to privacy.

In that aim, we are launching our inaugural fellowship program to develop the capacity of Lebanese journalists to investigate and accurately report on privacy and surveillance issues with more depth and in the interest of the public.

We are pleased to announce the SMEX Fellowship for Reporting on Digital Freedoms and we invite journalists, reporters, and bloggers interested in investigating the intersection between human rights and privacy rights to apply. SMEX will work with the selected fellows to produce and disseminate critical and relevant knowledge about digital freedoms in Lebanon.

The call for proposals will be open on Dec. 16, 2016. The deadline for submissions will be on Jan. 13, 2017 at midnight local time.

 

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