Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Human Right to Digital Privacy

Yesterday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, issued a report on the protection and promotion of the right to privacy in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveilliance, the interception of digital communications, and the collection of personal data.  The report reviews international agreements that protect privacy, including article 12 of the Univeral Declaration of Human Rights and article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which protect the right to be free from unlawful arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home and correspondence.  The report expresses concerns about government surveillance of personal information on the Internet. The report states that the government's use of surveillance techniques should be legal (e.g., transparent and for a legitimate purpose), proportionate and necessary.  The report also relies on international nondiscrimination principles to argue that both citizens and noncitizens should receive equal privacy protections.  Finally, the report states that effective remedies are needed when the right to privacy has been invaded. The report calls on States to review their national laws, policies and practices to ensure compliance with the right to privacy.


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