Necessary and proportionate: Civil society agrees on principles on surveillance and human rights

Author's name: 
Shawna Finnegan
Winnipeg

This week, in collaboration with more than 100 non-governmental and civil society groups from around the world, APC has signed on to support the launch of a set of international principles on communications surveillance and human rights.

These principles are being released at a crucial moment, as the Snowden revelations of US-led surveillance demonstrate a growing and systematic disregard for human rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by a number of State and non-State actors. The right to privacy is a fundamental human right and is essential to other human rights such as free expression, association and peaceful assembly. Widespread digital surveillance conducted outside of legal frameworks seriously threatens the protection and promotion of these rights.

Oversight is essential to prevent against the chilling effects of government surveillance. It is necessary to consider both the potential of the surveillance to reveal protected information, as well as the purpose for which the information is sought by the State. Determination of whether States may conduct communications surveillance that interferes with protected information must be based on the principles of legality, legitimate aim, necessity, adequacy, proportionality, competent judicial authority, due process, transparency, public oversight, user notification, integrity of communications and systems, and safeguards for international cooperation and against illegitimate access.

APC invites its members and partners to sign on to these international principles, holding State and non-State actors accountable for the respect, protection and promotion of human rights offline, and online.

These principles are also available in Spanish
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