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Written Submission for the Hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Global NSA Surveillance

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: 149th ordinary period of sessions.

28 October 2013

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Asociación por los Derechos Civiles, Access, ARTICLE 19 - Mexico and Central America office, ARTIGO 19 - Brasil, Asociación para el Progreso de las Comunicaciones, APC, Asociación para una Ciudadanía Participativa, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, Center for Technology and Society at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, Colectivo Contingente MX, Comisión Colombiana de Juristas, DATA, DeJusticia, Derechos Digitales, Fundación Karisma, Fundación para La Libertad de Prensa, Instituto DEMOS, Open Media, ONG Hiperderecho, Privacy International, Propuesta Cívica, Rio Institute for Technology & Society, TEDIC and the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic provide this submission in support of the position advanced by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that the mass surveillance programs of the United States NSA violate fundamental human rights of both U.S. and non-U.S. persons (a term employed by the United States to describe any individual not a citizen of the United States or a lawful permanent resident). 

The primary objective of our submission is to explain how certain recently-admitted aspects of the NSA's programs impact the rights of non-U.S. persons, and to this end, will include a description of how the programs operate and how the U.S. legal system fails to protect this class of person.  We will also describe some of the current efforts underway internationally to articulate how human rights laws, including specifically, the rights to free expression, privacy and association should be interpreted in this age of mass surveillance capabilities, including the technical ability to analyze communications and communications metadata in ways that have profound impacts on these rights.  We hope this analysis will assist the Commission in its consideration of these issues during this hearing and in defining the perameters of a future in-depth investigation into the U.S. mass surveillance programs and their impacts on human rights in the Americas.

In our conclusion, we made clear that mass surveillance programs of the United States NSA violate fundamental human rights of non-U.S. persons. We hope that the mass surveillance activities of the United States will be condemned in the strongest terms, reaffirming the above human rights principles, established by international human rights law.

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