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Oral statement delivered by APC under Item 3: Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy and the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children

UN Human Rights Council 34th Session
8 March, 2017

Delivered by Deborah Brown
Association for Progressive Communications

Thank you Mr. President.

The Association for Progressive Communications welcomes the opportunity to participate in this interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy.

International borders are not zones of exclusion or exception for human rights obligations. APC is concerned by reports that the United States government is demanding visitors provide access to their electronic devices as well as passcodes to those devices and online accounts at points of entry. We are also concerned that the US is considering a policy to require non-citizens to provide the passwords to their social media accounts as a condition of entering the country. As the OHCHR Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders outline, border policies should be guided by the primacy of human rights, non-discrimination, and assistance and protection from harm. Requiring access to a person’s digital life without cause, at the border or elsewhere, by force or coercion, is a violation of the right to privacy, the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, religion, belief, movement and association, and the freedom of the press.

In addition, there is a need for accountability for Customs and Border Protection agents and other federal agencies, to ensure that information collected on individuals is used for immediate vetting and not broader data collection and storage purposes.

We urge the US government to ensure that current and future policies with regard to accessing electronic devices and passcodes to online accounts comply with its obligations under international human rights law. Furthermore, we urge the Special Rapporteur to investigate this issue.

Mr. President,

Networked devices are proliferating. The data produced by these devices continuously stream revealing information about the people who interact with them, knowingly and unknowingly. However, networked devices are unregulated. Now is the time to understand the privacy implications of an “internet of things” and to regulate the manufacture of them so that they respect consumer and user rights.

Thank you Mr. President.