Menu
UN to appoint watchdog to focus on privacy in digital age

UN to appoint watchdog to focus on privacy in digital age

A 'special rapporteur' is to be appointed for a period of three years

The Human Rights Council of the United Nations has voted in favor of a resolution backed by Germany and Brazil to appoint an independent watchdog or 'special rapporteur' to monitor privacy rights in the digital age.

The council said Thursday that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy.

The proposed appointment of the rapporteur is likely to be mainly symbolic as the official's functions will be mainly advisory. But it reflects continuing concerns around the world about privacy in the wake of disclosures of U.S. surveillance by former National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden.

The resolution refers to the deep concern of the Human Rights Council at the negative impact on the exercise of human rights of surveillance or interception of communications both within countries and abroad, and of the collection of personal data, in particular when carried out on a mass scale.

German officials said in October 2013 that U.S. intelligence agencies may have spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone. There were also reports that the U.S. also spied on Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff among other political leaders.

The vote on Thursday was clearly prompted by concern over U.S. surveillance practices and the security of digital information, said the American Civil Liberties Union. The civil rights group said this was evident from ACLU's meetings with the sponsors of the resolution and from the text of the document.

"Our hope is that the Human Rights Council resolution marks the beginning of a serious global reckoning with mass surveillance and its effects," said Eileen Donahoe, director of global affairs at Human Rights Watch in a statement.

The new watchdog will, among other things, report on alleged violations of the right to privacy, and raise awareness concerning the importance of promoting and protecting the right to privacy, with a special reference to challenges arising in the digital age. The council has called upon all states to cooperate with the rapporteur, including by providing the information requested.

In November last year, a U.N. panel approved a resolution that would have the General Assembly call on states to respect and protect the right to privacy in the digital age.

The draft resolution, titled "Right to privacy in the digital age," also had Brazil and Germany as the main sponsors.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityU.S. National Security AgencyinternetUnited Nations Human Rights Councilprivacy

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP honoured leading partners across the channel at the Partner Awards 2017 in New Zealand, recognising excellence across the entire print and personal systems portfolio.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30

Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30

Leading figures within the technology industry across New Zealand came together to celebrate 30 years of success for Lexel Systems, at a milestone birthday occasion at St Matthews in the City.​

Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30
HP re-imagines education through Auckland event launch

HP re-imagines education through Auckland event launch

HP New Zealand held an inaugural Evolve Education event at Aotea Centre in Auckland, welcoming over 70 principals, teachers and education experts to explore ways of shaping and enhancing learning using technology.

HP re-imagines education through Auckland event launch
Show Comments