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[liberationtech] Thirteen Principles Against Unchecked Surveillance Launched, at United Nations

Katitza Rodriguez katitza at
Fri Sep 20 10:27:43 PDT 2013

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

For Immediate Release: Friday, September 20, 2013


Katitza Rodriguez
  International Rights Director
  Electronic Frontier Foundation
  katitza at

Thirteen Principles Against Unchecked Surveillance Launched
at United Nations

Privacy Advocates Call Upon UN Member States to End Mass
Internet Spying Worldwide

Geneva - At the 24th Session of the United Nations Human
Rights Council on Friday, six major privacy NGOs, including
the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), warned nations of
the urgent need comply with international human rights law
to protect their citizens from the dangers posed by mass
digital surveillance.

The groups launched the "International Principles on the
Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance"
at a side event on privacy hosted by the governments of
Austria, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Norway, and
Switzerland. The text is available in 30 languages at

"Governments around the world are waking up to the risks
unrestrained digital surveillance pose to free societies,"
EFF International Rights Director Katitza Rodriguez said
during the official presentation of the principles.
"Privacy is a human right and needs to be protected as
fiercely as all other rights. States need to restore the
application of human rights to communications

The document was the product of a year-long negotiation
process between Privacy International, the Electronic
Frontier Foundation, Access, Human Rights Watch, Reporters
Without Borders, and the Association for Progressive
Communications. The document spells out how existing human
rights law applies to modern digital surveillance and gives
lawmakers and observers a benchmark for measuring states'
surveillance practices against long-established human
rights standards. The principles have now been endorsed by
over 260 organizations from 77 countries, from Somalia to

Included in the 13 principles are tenets such as:

Necessity: State surveillance must be limited to that which
is necessary to achieve a legitimate aim.

Proportionality: Communications surveillance should be
regarded as a highly intrusive act and weighed against the
harm that would be caused to the individual's rights.

Transparency: States must be transparent about the use and
scope of communications surveillance. Public Oversight:
States need independent oversight mechanisms.

Integrity of Communications and Systems: Because
compromising security for state purposes always compromises
security more generally, states must not compel ISPs or
hardware and software vendors to include backdoors or other
spying capabilities.

EFF and its co-signers will use the principles to advocate
at national, regional and international levels for a change
in how present surveillance laws are interpreted and new
laws are crafted, including urging the United States
government to re-engineer its domestic surveillance program
to comply with international human rights law.

The event, "How to Safeguard the Right to Privacy in the
Digital Age," featured speakers including Navi Pillay, the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights--who
highlighted the recent scandals over British and US
surveillance programs in her introductory remarks to the
Human Rights Council this week--and Frank La Rue, the
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and
Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and
Expression. Earlier this year, LaRue released a report that
details the widespread use of state surveillance of
communications in several countries, stating that such
surveillance severely undermines a citizenry's ability to
enjoy private lives, freely express themselves and exercise
their other fundamental human rights.

"Member states of the Human Rights Council should assess
their surveillance laws and bring them into compliance with
the 13 benchmarks," Rodriguez says. "We must put an end to
unchecked, suspicionless, mass spying online."

For this release:

About EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading
organization protecting civil liberties in the digital
world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight
illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital
innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms
we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of
technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization.
Find out more at


Katitza Rodriguez
International Rights Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
katitza at
katitza at (personal email)

Please support EFF - Working to protect your digital rights and freedom
of speech since 1990

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