The Electronic Frontier Foundation welcomes the appointment of Mr. Joseph Cannataci as the first-ever UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy. The President of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) appointed Mr. Cannataci last week following the March 2015 HRC resolution that called to appoint a new Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy for a period of three years.

Bringing more than thirty years of experience in the area of privacy, Mr. Cannataci’s new position represents a great opportunity to develop best practices and global standards aimed to protect privacy in an era of constant pervasive surveillance. He will play a crucial role in developing a common substantive interpretation of the right to privacy in a variety of settings and will be responsible for carrying out systematic analyses and research, and monitoring on the right across the world. Mr. Cannataci will also play a role in providing much-needed guidance to states and companies on the interpretation of the right to privacy.

For those unfamiliar with the United Nations system, special rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council who serve in a personal capacity and are mandated to report on human rights.  They research specific human rights concerns and report back to the Human Rights Council. Special Rapporteurs are neither government nor UN staffers and do not receive financial remuneration. The independent status of the mandate-holders is essential for the Special Rapporteur position to impartially fulfill its functions.

The creation of a Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy in the digital age has elevated the right to privacy to the priority level that the Human Rights Council ascribes to most other human rights. Most importantly, it gives the right to privacy the international recognition and protection it deserves.

We hope Mr. Cannataci’s experience lives up to his commitment to protect privacy in the digital world.