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Friday, 20 December 2013 12:36

UN votes for right to privacy

Written by Nick Farrell



Anti-spying rules

The UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at protecting the right to privacy against unlawful surveillance in the digital age. The move is being seen as the most vocal global criticism of US eavesdropping and was introduced by Germany and Brazil.

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were all spied on by the US. The resolution "affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy."

It calls on the 193 U.N. member states "to respect and protect the right to privacy, including in the context of digital communication," to take measures to end violations of those rights, and to prevent such violations including by ensuring that national legislation complies with international human rights law.

It also calls on all countries "to review their procedures, practices and legislation regarding the surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data, including mass surveillance, interception and collection, with a view to upholding the right to privacy of all their obligations under international human rights law."

General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion and carry political weight. The United States did not fight the measure after it engaged in lobbying with Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which comprise the "Five Eyes" intelligence-sharing group, to dilute some of the original draft resolution's language.

Nick Farrell

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