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In June 2013, Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) was indiscriminately monitoring the communications of people all over the world through a variety of surveillance systems. Transnational corporations such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft have also cooperated with the NSA by providing their users' personal information under the NSA’s PRISM programme, through which the agency collects internet communication from US-based tech companies. The US government has stated that it collected the information legally with court authorisation under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and that it does not target US citizens with surveillance. But this raises a concern about the citizens of other countries. How does the NSA regard information of internet users outside of the United States of America?
Human rights activists in South Korea communicate via email with activists around the world, including the United States. How can we find out if our personal information has been shared with the US intelligence agencies without our knowledge, and seek redress and protection for our rights to privacy and safety? We believed that a system to protect the rights of data subjects regarding personal information can be a way to resist surveillance.
On 10 February 2014, six activists from the Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet, Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, Citizens' Action Network and Amnesty International Korea requested disclosure of the personal information related to their Google accounts from Google headquarters and Google Korea. The request entailed enquiry about whether their personal information or information about their use of Gmail service (e.g. who they sent emails to, the content of their emails, and other metadata) was provided to third parties such as the NSA.
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