San Francisco - An international coalition of human rights and privacy organizations today launched an action center to oppose mass surveillance on the global stage: necessaryandproportionate.org/take-action. The new petition site went live just as the United Nations voted on a resolution to recognize the need for the international community to come to terms with new digital surveillance techniques.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), along with Access and Privacy International, took a leadership role in developing the campaign. The new action center allows individuals from around the world to sign their names to a petition in support of the "International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance." Also known as the "Necessary and Proportionate Principles," the document outlines 13 policies that governments must follow to protect human rights in an age of digital surveillance—including acknowledgement that communications surveillance threatens free speech and privacy and should only be carried out in exceptional cases and under the rule of law.
Once the signatures are collected, the organizations will deliver the petition to the UN, world leaders and global policymakers. Over 300 organizations, plus many individual experts, have already signed the petition.
"Surveillance can and does threaten human rights, " EFF International Rights Director Katitza Rodriguez said. "Even laws intended to protect national security or combat crime will inevitably lead to abuse if left unchecked and kept secret. The Necessary and Proportionate Principles set the groundwork for applying human rights values to digital surveillance techniques through transparency, rigorous oversight and privacy protections that transcend borders."
Today, the UN Third Committee unanimously adopted Resolution A/C.3/68/L.45, "The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age." Sponsored by 47 nations, the non-binding resolution recognizes the importance of privacy and free expression and how these core principles of democracy may be threatened when governments exploit new communications technologies.
"While not as strong as the original draft resolution, the United Nations resolution is a meaningful and very positive step for the privacy rights of individuals, no matter what country they call home," Rodriguez said. "We will be watching to see if countries such as China, Russia or even the US use the resolution to legitimize their mass surveillance programs. That is why it's important for nations to go further and comply with the Necessary and Proportionate principles."
The organizations behind the Action Center include Access, Chaos Computer Club, Center for Internet & Society-India, Center for Technology and Society at Fundação Getulio Vargas, Digitale Gesellschaft, Digital Courage, EFF, OpenMedia.ca, Open Rights Group, Fundacion Karisma, Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic, SHARE Foundation, and Privacy International.
EFF's web development team designed the action center using the same activism platform the organization has successfully deployed in campaigns on the state and federal level in the US, this time adapting it to the scale of an international movement.
For more information on the petition and principles, read Rodriguez's blog post.
International Rights Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
katitza (at) eff.org