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United Nations Calls on Nations to Safeguard User Security and Privacy

December 3, 2014 | By  

Summary

Recently, a United Nations(UN) panel approved a resolution that has its General Assembly call on countries to respect and safeguard the right to security and privacy in today’s digital age.

Titled “ Right to Privacy in Digital Age,” the draft resolution has Germany and Brazil as the chief sponsors. The resolution called for the protection of human rights online and offline, was also proposed by Germany and Brazil, and was adopted in 2013 in the U.N. General Assembly.

The decision followed in the wake of revelations by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden about the U.S. agency’s mass surveillance in the nation and abroad.

UN Calls for Safety and Privacy of Human Rights

In October 2013, German officials said that U.S. intel agencies may have snooped on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile. Also, there were reports that the United States also spied on Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff among many other political leaders.

The new draft resolution was passed on November 25, 2014 without being voted by the General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural). However, it would still need the General Assembly to vote on it.

According to reports, the resolution is said to have been weakened by the “Five Eyes” surveillance alliance that includes Australia, United States,  Canada, New Zealand, and United Kingdom.

In the context of digital surveillance the new resolution also added a reference to metadata,  pointing out that it can be used to compile the personal profiles of individuals.

It also asserts the responsibilities of private parties to respect human rights when dealing with personal information.  This means that obligations of States involving human rights also applies when they use private firms for surveillance purposes.

Further, the new resolution requires countries to respect  international human rights obligations in regards to privacy and security. This holds true whey states require the disclosure of personal information from third parties, including private agencies.

This issue has become paramount in the United States, where some firms have tried  to resist providing information to government and law enforcement agencies in certain circumstances.

Without the necessary checks, it is sort of difficult keep track of certain crimes. Monitoring and recording each step of every citizen is  done to prevent any conceivable crime, argue States.

The United States said that communications will not be monitored to suppress criticism, or to disadvantage people based on their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender.

Concerns about online security may justify the gathering of certain important data, in regards to  international human rights obligations. The United States did try to bring in some checks on the massive collection of phone records by NSA.

But as per the  USA Freedom Act, tech firms and civil rights groups failed to get the much needed 60 votes in the U.S. Senate in order to end debate and reach a final vote on the legislation.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) opined that United States should support U.N. committee’s request to the U.N. Human Rights Council. If USA seeks to establish a order in cyber security, it should be vocal about UN’s special procedure on digital privacy.

The government of United States should meet with an independent expert on privacy, it at all it wants peace and order in the digital world.

 

 

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