United Nations Finally Broke Its Silence On Civil Liberties Violations

United Nations Finally Broke Its Silence On Civil Liberties ViolationsUnited Nations has preferred to keep itself aloof from civil liberties issues, especially those exercised in the cyberspace. The problem is that there are no internationally acceptable standards that protect human rights in cyberspace. This is all the more reason that UN must protect human rights in cyberspace.

However, the indifference on the part of UN in this regard has raised doubts about it role in the protection of civil liberties in cyberspace. Although UN has declared that “access to internet” is a human right yet in practice this has not been adopted by member of the UN.

Meanwhile, countries keep on pushing e-surveillance oriented projects and executive orders. The position reached a stage where if UN did not interfere, the situation could have got out o hands.

UN has now opined (PDF) that the increasing state surveillance could be a serious threat to right to privacy. UN believes that state surveillance of communications is ubiquitous, and such surveillance severely undermines citizens’ ability to enjoy a private life, freely express themselves and enjoy their other fundamental human rights.

Countries around the world, including India, are denying legal safeguards and using new technologies and surveillance techniques to invade citizens civil liberties. For instance, India is using e-surveillance projects like Aadhaar, central monitoring system, national intelligence grid, etc to defeat civil liberties of Indians. Till now we have no dedicated privacy law in India.

In U.S. Google has been challenging the FBI’s national security letters (NSLs) that although declared to be unconstitutional are still required to be followed. U.S. government is also the biggest buyer of malware. Global cyber espionage networks and botnets are also used by rouge nations. The command and control of FinFisher malware were found in 36 countries, including India.

UN has taken a good step in the right direction but it has to implement civil liberties protection in cyberspace vis-à-vis its member nations as well.

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