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CAUT Bulletin Archives

October 2013

CAUT endorses international principles against internet spying

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Privacy organizations & advocates worldwide call on countries to protect citizens from mass digital surveillance.

In its commitment to the protection of basic civil liberties, CAUT has signed onto the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance. Released at the 24th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Coun­cil meeting in mid-September in Geneva, the document identifies 13 benchmarks designed to shield individuals from unnecessary and disproportionate surveillance strategies.

UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay emphasized the necessity of creating international standards for governments to follow.

“While concerns about national security and criminal activity may justify the exceptional and narrowly-tailored use of surveillance programmes, surveillance without adequate safeguards to protect the right to privacy actually risk impacting negatively on the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Pillay said.

Developed in consultation with privacy and security experts from around the world, the principles offer a framework with which to evaluate whether communications surveillance policies and practices are consistent with international human rights.

According to David Robinson, CAUT’s associate executive director, “We know that academic freedom can only flourish when basic civil liberties and rights can be exercised. Privacy is a human right that must be respected by all governments. There is absolutely no room for warrantless, mass surveillance in open and democratic societies.”

The principles have now been endorsed by almost 300 organizations from 77 countries.