Monthly Archives: November 2013

United Nations (UN) Third Committee Approves Text Titled Right To Privacy In The Digital Age

United Nations (UN) Third Committee Approves Text Titled Right To Privacy In The Digital AgeUnited Nations (UN) has approved the United Nations (UN) Draft Resolution On The Right To Privacy In The Digital Age- Final Version (PDF). It is different from the Original United Nations (UN) Draft Resolution on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age (PDF). This has happened as United States objected to the original Resolution and UN removed the relationship between Human Rights Violations in Cyberspace and e-surveillance exercises by various nations. This change of language breaks the link between extraterritorial surveillance and human rights violations.

As per the UN Document (PDF), the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved 18 draft resolutions today, including one on “The right to privacy in the digital age”. “Through this resolution, the General Assembly establishes, for the first time, that human rights should prevail irrespective of the medium and therefore need to be protected both offline and online,” Brazil’s representative said, echoing the statement delivered by his President during the opening of the sixty‑eighth session.

The draft, approved without a vote, would have the General Assembly call upon Member States to review their procedures, practices and legislation on the surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data, including mass surveillance, with a view to upholding the right to privacy by ensuring the full and effective implementation of all relevant obligations under international human rights law.

Following the approval, some delegates stressed the need for agreed international human rights mechanisms in relation to ensuring privacy and freedom of expression.  Some expressed regret over the lack of a specific reference to such mechanisms in the draft, while others applauded the consensus as a clear international reaction to the national and extraterritorial electronic surveillance activities conducted by the United States. The Report Of The Special Rapporteur On The Promotion And Protection Of The Right To Freedom Of Opinion And Expression-Frank La Rue (PDF) is also useful in this regard.

This is of particular significance in the Indian context as India has already launched illegal and unconstitutional projects like Aadhar, central monitoring system, national intelligence grid (Natgrid), etc without any legal framework and parliamentary oversight.

Now when we have a chance to bring some sanity among the chaos created by the intelligence infrastructure of India, the intelligence agencies have pulled their sleeves to stall the proposed privacy bill.

Indian perspective regarding the passed UN resolution is still not clear. However, keeping in mind the anti privacy inclinations of Indian government not much is expected from India at this stage.

United Nations (UN) Draft Resolution On The Right To Privacy In The Digital Age

United Nations (UN) Draft Resolution On The Right To Privacy In The Digital AgeHuman Rights Protection in Cyberspace or Civil Liberties Protection in Cyberspace is essential part of Civil Liberty Environment of the present times. Although protection of Human Rights in the traditional world is the responsibility of United Nations yet when it comes to cyberspace, UN has been slow in this regard.

This is the reason why many have urged that United Nations must protect Human rights in cyberspace. The seriousness of UN to protect Human Rights in cyberspace has also been questioned in the past. The UN finally broke its silence in this regard and declared that access to Internet is a human right. However, this did not prevent e-surveillance by various governments and its agencies through out the world.

To challenge this situation, Germany and Brazil drafted the resolution to regulate a control over excessive electronic surveillance by various intelligence agencies around the world. The original United Nations (UN) Draft Resolution on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age (PDF) is a landmark resolution that has to be considered by the United Nations (UN) very soon.

The U.N. General Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with human rights issues, is to vote on the draft next week, and it is then expected to be put to a vote by the 193-nation General Assembly in December.

The initial draft would have had the assembly declare it is “deeply concerned at human rights violations and abuses that may result from the conduct of any surveillance of communications, including extraterritorial surveillance of communications.”

But the language has been changed to “deeply concerned 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.”

A senior U.N. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the new language as a compromise that “sort of breaks the link between extraterritorial surveillance and human rights violations.”

At Perry4Law and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) we believe that UN must play a more pro active role for protection of Human Rights in Cyberspace. Any dilution of the Human Rights Protection in Cyberspace must be seriously frowned by the UN.