Gus Hosein worries about data, everyone’s data. As executive director of Privacy International, Gus has a long history of fighting to protect people’s data from exploitation by companies and governments.
When the Bush administration introduced the US-VISIT system, we were the only organization on the planet that opposed it, saying, this is ridiculous. You shouldn’t be fingerprinting kids coming to visit people in the US. But Americans didn’t really care. Although it was funny, because at that time, the Brazilians were a little bit rebellious. And they decided to retaliate against Americans by fingerprinting all American visitors. And Colin Powell was Secretary of State at the time, and he was on his way to Brazil. When he was asked about that, he said he was going to make his displeasure clear to the Brazilians that that was not a good practice. He couldn’t even imagine that this was standard US policy. I was working at the time campaigning against that system, and the Japanese government had also introduced its equivalent system. And the EU was very much on our side, saying, no, you should not be collecting data on EU citizens who are just visiting the US. And the data collected in the US-VISIT system, the fingerprint data is kept for 100 years.
Gus Hosein is the Executive Director of Privacy International, a London-based charity that works across the world to protect people and their data from exploitation by governments and companies. He has worked at the intersection of technology and human rights for over twenty-five years.