Civil Society Groups Launch Human Rights Principles Related To Mass Surveillance

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By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch

A coalition of civil society organisations yesterday officially launched a set of 13 principles on the application of human rights to communication surveillance during a side event at the 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva.

The 13 principles are available here.

Representatives of Privacy International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Access, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, Association for Progressive Communications, and the Center for Democracy and Technology requested to “assess their national surveillance laws and bring them into compliance with the 13 benchmarks,” including standards like legality, necessity, proportionality, adequacy, transparency, due process and the criminalisation of mass surveillance that does not follow basic standards and human rights.

The June report on massive state surveillance by Frank La Rue, UN special advisor on freedom of expression and the latest leaks from Edward Snowden had already identified examples of surveillance laws and practices that failed to comply with these standards, Katitza Rodriguez, EFF international rights director, wrote after the event. “Its time for the Human Rights Council to scrutinizes those national surveillance laws against the 13 Principles,” she said.

A special session by the HRC on privacy and state surveillance – also proposed by La Rue – has been supported by several member states, including the hosts of the 20 September side event – Austria, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Proposals for future actions include a clarification of privacy vis-a-vis state surveillance through an update of the General Comment No. 16, a new binding legal instrument to clearly limit the cross-border activities of secret services. How far governments will see such steps through is open.

Brazil, meanwhile, is considering including strict provisions for IT companies to store all data from Brazilian citizens on servers in the country, according to reports. Ecuador will host another side event Tuesday on the protection of whistleblowers alongside the HRC meeting.

For further information see press releases of the 13 principles’ sponsoring organisations and their reports from the meeting.

Creative Commons License"Civil Society Groups Launch Human Rights Principles Related To Mass Surveillance" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.



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