Communications Surveillance Undermines Privacy and Freedom

August 13th, 2013

The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) today has signed onto the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, which set minimum standards for the protection of the rights to freedom of expression and privacy.

The principles articulate what international human rights law which binds every country across the globe require of governments in the digital age. They speak to a growing global consensus that modern surveillance has gone too far and needs to be restrained. They also give benchmarks that people around the world can use to evaluate and push for changes in their own legal systems.

The product of over a year of consultation among civil society, privacy and technology experts (read here, here, here and here), the principles have already been co-signed by over hundred organizations from around the world. The process was led by Privacy InternationalAccess, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The release of the principles comes on the heels of a landmark report from the United Nation Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, which details the widespread use of state surveillance of communications, stating that such surveillance severely undermines citizens’ ability to enjoy a private life, freely express themselves and enjoy their other fundamental human rights.

The International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance was co-operatively written by privacy organizations and advocates worldwide, including but not limited to Access, Article 19, Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia, Asociaciónpor los DerechosCiviles, Association for Progressive CommunicationsBits of FreedomCenter for Internet & Society India, ComisiónColombiana de Juristas,Electronic Frontier Foundation, European Digital RightsFundaciónKarisma, Open Net KoreaOpen Rights GroupPrivacy International, and the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. In addition, we also want to thank IP Justice, SHARE Foundation – SHARE Defense, IFEX Network and Instituto NUPEF for help connecting concerned groups together.