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UN – The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age

“Advances in information communication technology are dramatically improving real-time communication and information-sharing. By improving access to information and facilitating global debate, they foster democratic participation. By amplifying the voices of human rights defenders and helping to expose abuses, these powerful technologies offer the promise of improved enjoyment of human rights. But at the same time it has become clear that these new technologies are vulnerable to electronic surveillance and interception. Recent discoveries have revealed how new technologies are being developed covertly, often to facilitate these practices, with chilling efficiency. As the High Commissioner has cautioned in her recent statements [September 2013 and February 2014], such surveillance threatens individual rights – including to privacy and to freedom of expression and association – and inhibits the free functioning of a vibrant civil society.”

  • Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the right to privacy in the digital age
  • Via CDT – highlights of the report include: “Mass” and “bulk” surveillance programs are illegal under international human-rights law; The US’ foreign surveillance regime may very well be unlawfully discriminatory; Courts that issue secret rulings about surveillance laws cannot adequately guarantee respect for privacy rights; The secret collection of metadata interferes with the right to privacy; It may be illegal for governments to force private companies to store customers’ metadata; Legal assumptions that consumers understand how and with whom their data is shared probably do not reflect reality; International human-rights laws, including the right to privacy, are strictly binding upon the US in a very wide range of circumstances—even, in some cases, extraterritorially.”

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