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.

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