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    UN General Assembly Adopts Resolution On Privacy And Surveillance

    Published on 8 January 2014 @ 4:46 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    On 18 December, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus Resolution A/RES/68/167, The right to privacy in the digital age (see page 139 of document A/68/456/Add.2). This Resolution was initially introduced by Brazil and Germany and was subsequently supported by other countries.

    The genesis of this resolution is concern regarding the widely reported pervasive surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden. While the resolution in question does not directly condemn any particular practice, it can be understood to be criticising some of the practices that have been discussed in the press, in particular pervasive extraterritorial surveillance. While resolutions do not have the same legal effects as treaties, they can nevertheless be considered a form of  “soft law”, because they outline agreed positions on specific issues.

    Significantly, the resolution calls on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to submit a report on the protection and promotion of the right to privacy in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance and/or interception of digital communications and the collection of personal data, including on a mass scale. So the topic will surely be discussed again at the General Assembly.

    The Resolution reaffirms existing human rights instruments and notes that technological developments enhance surveillance, interception and data collection capabilities, which may violate or abuse human rights, in particular the right to privacy. It reaffirms that right, recognising that it is important for the realisation of the right to freedom of expression and to hold opinions without interference, one of the foundations of a democratic society.

    The importance of the full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information is stressed, emphasising that unlawful or arbitrary surveillance as well as unlawful or arbitrary collection of personal data, as highly intrusive acts, violate the rights to privacy and to freedom of expression.

    The Resolution notes that while concerns about public security may justify the gathering and protection of certain sensitive information, states must ensure full compliance with their obligations under international human rights law.

    Deep concern is expressed at the negative impact that surveillance and/or interception of communications, including extraterritorial surveillance and/or interception of communications, as well as the collection of personal data, in particular when carried out on a mass scale, may have on the exercise and enjoyment of human rights.

    The Resolution affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy. And it calls on States to respect the right to privacy; to take measures to put an end to violations of those rights; to review their procedures, practices and legislation regarding surveillance; and to establish or maintain independent, effective domestic oversight mechanisms.

    As noted above, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is requested to submit a report on these matters.

    Contributed by Richard Hill, an independent consultant based in Geneva, Switzerland.

     

    [Note: this article is part of a new feature at Intellectual Property Watch: "Contributed Articles" - occasional editorial contributions by experts who are not affiliated with IP-Watch. This is part of an effort to bring you news on interesting issues we may not have the capacity to cover using our regular staff. These articles are factual to the best of our knowledge and are not intended to be opinion pieces, which would otherwise appear in the Inside Views column.]

     

    Intellectual Property Watch may be reached at info@ip-watch.org.

     

    Comments

    1. Joseph A Sprute says:

      When the origination of energy defines unoriginal thought, what rights will privacy bring to the duplicitous?

    2. john e miller says:

      From Explanation of Position for the Third Committee Resolution on the Right To Privacy in the Digital Age by Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens, U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council, 26NOV2013

      “In some cases, conduct that violates privacy rights may also seriously impede or even prevent the exercise of freedom of expression, but conduct that violates privacy rights does not violate the right to freedom of expression in every case.”

      http://usun.state.gov/briefing/statements/218078.htm

    3. Pirate News Digest. Week 2 | PirateTimes says:

      […] Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus Resolution A/RES/68/167, the ‘right to privacy in the digital age’ (see page 139 of document A/68/456/Add.2). […]

    4. Party of WeU.N. declares online privacy a human right, global Internet freedom declining says:

      […] action can be stopped. Intellectual Property Watch reported that the U.N. General Assembly recently voted unanimously to grant the right to privacy in the digital age to people throughout the world. The resolution was […]


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

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    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

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