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UN realises internet monitoring is bad

Landmark report calls for end to state surveillance

Frank La Rue, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion released a landmark report on state surveillance and freedom of expression which backtracks on the UN’s previous policies.

La Rue makes the case for a direct relationship between state surveillance, privacy and freedom of expression. He said that the right to privacy is often understood as an essential requirement for the realisation of the right to freedom of expression.

“Undue interference with individuals’ privacy can both directly and indirectly limit the free development and exchange of ideas. … An infringement upon one right can be both the cause and consequence of an infringement upon the other, “ he wrote.

The report acknowledges the benefits of technological innovations that have enabled rapid, anonymous, cross-cultural dialogues around the world. But it warns that technologies can open a Pandora's box of previously unimaginable state surveillance intrusions.

La Rue reminds States that in order to meet their human rights obligations, they must ensure that the rights to free expression and privacy—and metadata protection in particular—are at the heart of their communications surveillance frameworks. He wants UN members to review national laws regulating surveillance and update and strengthen laws and legal standards.

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