Snowden, NSA spying, hard drive malware ... what we need is a UN privacy watchdog!

EFF writes a very angry letter asking United Nations to write a very angry letter to the US

The Electronic Frontier Foundation thinks the United Nations needs to get its arse in gear and safeguard people's privacy from government snoops.

The activist group (EFF) said an independent expert should be appointed by the UN's Human Rights Council (HRC) to tackle blanket surveillance and the gathering of people's private and sensitive data by nation states (cough, cough, America).

Currently, says the EFF, the UN does not have adequate measures in place to ensure people have a decent amount of privacy from the powers that be – and judging by Edward Snowden's revelations of NSA spying, there's no such thing as privacy if Uncle Sam has an interest in you.

"Privacy is an independent right, enshrined in a variety of international human rights treaties," wrote EFF international rights director Katitza Rodriguez.

"There is a pressing need to better articulate the content of this right as part of international human rights law and produce guides on its interpretation, particularly as modern technologies are enabling communications surveillance—and consequent interference with this right—on an unprecedented and damaging scale."

To that end, the group is joining a global effort to push the UN for the establishment of a formal Special Rapporteur role on the HRC. The EFF and 62 other non-government organizations have produced a letter [PDF] that they plan to send to the UN.

"The current lack of a dedicated thematic special procedure on the right to privacy hinders the capacity of the HRC to provide leadership in protecting and promoting this right, particularly as modern technologies are enabling interferences with privacy on an unprecedented scale," the letter reads.

"A Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy would fill this significant institutional gap and enable the HRC to take a leading role in identifying and clarifying principles, standards and best practices regarding the promotion and protection of the right to privacy"

Other groups backing the letter include Amnesty International and the Center for Democracy and Technology. ®


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