San Francisco and London – As the global debate over the intelligence programs revealed by Edward Snowden approaches its first anniversary, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and ARTICLE 19 today published a new legal analysis of the Necessary & Proportionate Principles, a guiding framework for countries to apply international human rights law to communications surveillance.

Currently, there are few legal or technological constraints on international monitoring, data gathering, and use of digital communications. This report serves as important context and background as states around the world discuss the future of privacy.

"As our everyday interactions, activities and communications now emit a continuous stream of revealing information, the question has become: how do we preserve fundamental freedoms in the digital age?” EFF International Rights Director Katitza Rodriguez said. “This paper explains how and why we must rein in unchecked surveillance state at home and abroad and protect the freedoms of everyone, regardless of citizenship or statelessness."

Thomas Hughes, executive director of ARTICLE 19, added: "Mass surveillance violates our rights to freedom of expression and privacy. Almost a year after the Snowden revelations, little to no progress has been made in ensuring that surveillance practices meet international legal standards. This report shows that mass surveillance laws must be overhauled as a matter of urgency."

The Necessary & Proportionate Principles were launched in July 2013 after a year of consultation between privacy advocates and technology experts, and have since gathered momentum across the globe and in the United Nations itself. More than 400 organizations and 300,000 individuals have endorsed the principles, which articulate how unchecked surveillance power can threaten privacy, association and free expression

The background paper:

For the principles:

About the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading organization protecting civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization. Find out more at

About ARTICLE 19

ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organization that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of information. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. ARTICLE 19 monitors threats to freedom of expression in different regions of the world, as well as national and global trends and develops long-term strategies to address them and advocates for the implementation of the highest standards of freedom of expression, nationally and globally.


Katitza Rodriguez
   International Rights Director
   Electronic Frontier Foundation

Siobhan Sheerin
   Press Officer