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States must protect individuals from digital surveillance better

by on07 September 2020

Council of Europe decrees

The Council of Europe has said that states must make better efforts in protecting individuals from digital surveillance by intelligence services.

In a joint statement issued today, the Chair of the Council of Europe’s data protection “Convention 108” committee, Alessandra Pierucci, and the Council of Europe’s Data Protection Commissioner, Jean-Philippe Walter, called on States to strengthen the protection of personal data in the context of digital surveillance carried by intelligence services.

It wants states to sign up to the Council of Europe convention on data protection “Convention 108+” and by promoting a new international legal instrument providing democratic and adequate safeguards.

“Countries must agree at international level on the extent to which the surveillance performed by intelligence services can be authorised, under which conditions and according to which safeguards, including independent and effective oversight”, they stressed.

The development of a new legal standard could be based on the numerous criteria already developed by the courts, including the European Court of Human Rights and the US Supreme Court.

The council is concerned that the latest European Court of Justice’s judgment said that the EU-USA “Privacy Shield” agreement was pants because the USA builds insufficient human rights safeguards in its government’s surveillance programmes.

The statement recalls the role that the Council of Europe’s modernised data protection treaty, not yet in force, can play in providing a robust legally binding agreement for the protection of privacy and personal data globally, notably concerning the flow of personal data across borders.

Last modified on 07 September 2020
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