UN Human Rights Council Approves Expert On Privacy In The Digital Age 26/03/2015 by Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The UN Human Rights Council at its 28th session today in Geneva adopted a resolution that establishes a new mandate for a Special Rapporteur on Privacy in the Digital Age. The Council also approved a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.15), extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights for 3 years and took note of the current rapporteur’s recent report raising concerns about the impact of copyright on human rights (IPW, United Nations, 11 March 2015). The Human Rights Council is meeting from 2-27 March. Right to Privacy On the new privacy rapporteur, the resolution (A/HRC/28/L27), initiated by Brazil, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Mexico, calls for an initial 3-year mandate. The new Special Rapporteur according to the resolution has to “report on alleged violations, wherever they may occur, of the right to privacy, as set out in article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including in connection with the challenges arising from new technologies, and to draw the attention of the Council and the High Commissioner to situations of particular serious concern.” The resolution is a follow-up to the Brazilian-German initiative to put privacy on the HRC agenda in the wake of the revelations about mass surveillance carried out by the US National Security Agency and the “Five-Eyes” Countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand), but also other allies. Germany itself is undergoing an parliamentary inquiry at the moment on how far its Foreign Intelligence Service has collaborated with the Five-Eye partners. South Africa disassociated itself from the resolution today arguing that it put too much weight on the digital life while human rights like privacy were indivisible. Also, the South African representative said, it would have been more appropriate to include the privacy mandate with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. Frank La Rue, former Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, in a report published days before the Snowden revelations had warned about the privacy violations caused by national intelligence activities. The United States while firmly committing to privacy criticized the resolution because it introduced concepts like “necessity” and “proportionality”. These were regional concepts not agreed in international documents, especially Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said they could not support the establishment of a Special Rapporteur. Brazil, when presenting the draft before adoption, reiterated that surveillance could have a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights. This includes extraterritorial surveillance and collection of personal data, in particular when carried out on a mass scale, it said. States have to respect the right of privacy when collecting personal data, Brazil said, adding that the Human Rights Council has an important role to play in protecting the right to privacy in the digital age. Human rights organisations welcomed the decision (see Association for Progressive Communications and Human Rights Watch). APC said this month that more than 90 nongovernmental organisations had called for the position to be created. Cultural Rights On the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Cuba introduced the resolution. According to sources, Latvia on behalf of the European Union, agreed with the extension but did not agree with some recommendations relating to exceptions to copyrights. Japan spoke generally about the need for access issues to be considered comprehensively and with relevant stakeholders, Cautioning the special rapporteur and saying the issues should be entrusted to the World Intellectual Property Organization. The United States speaking generally said it supports cultural diversity and other issues, but it is concerned that the diversity in human rights could be misused. It also cited the protection of moral and material interests in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which it said includes intellectual property rights. The US said it disagrees with the recent report of the current special rapporteur, including on IP rights, the sources said. William New contributed to this report. Image Credits: OHCHR Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Monika Ermert may be reached at email@example.com."UN Human Rights Council Approves Expert On Privacy In The Digital Age" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.