A Principled Fight Against Surveillance


By Katitza Rodriguez – Years before Edward Snowden leaked his first document, human rights lawyers and activists have been concerned about a dramatic expansion in law enforcement and foreign intelligence agencies’ efforts to spy on the digital world.

It had become evident that legal protections had not kept pace with technological – that the state’s practical ability to spy on the world had developed in a way that permitted it to bypass the functional limits that have historically checked its ability to spy.

  • It’s time to move beyond the fallacy that information about communications (metadata) does not pose as serious a threat to privacy as the content of communications
  • In a world of highly integrated digital networks, where individual interactions and data routes defy any semblance of territorial correspondence, such distinctions are meaningless
  • “Law” implies certain minimum qualitative requirements of clarity, accessibility, and predictability. Laws limiting human rights cannot be secret or vague enough to permit arbitrary interference
  • Laws should only permit communications surveillance by specified State authorities to achieve a Legitimate Aim that corresponds to a predominantly important legal interest that is necessary in a democratic society
  • Any restrictive measure which undermines the essence or core of a right is inherently disproportionate and a violation of that right
  • No law should impose security holes in our technology in order to facilitate surveillance
  • Notification must be the norm, not the exception. Individuals should be notified that access to their communications has been authorized with enough time and information to enable them to appeal the decision, except when doing so would endanger the investigation at issue
  • Governments should not bypass national privacy protections by relying on secretive informal data sharing agreements with foreign states or private international companies. Individuals should not be denied privacy rights simply because they live in another country from the one that is surveilling them. Where data is flowing across borders, the law of the jurisdiction with the greatest privacy protections should apply

It’s clear that under the cloak of secrecy, malfunctioning oversight and the limited reach of outdated laws, the practice of digital surveillance in countries from the far north to the far south, have overrun the bounds of human rights standards. more> http://tinyurl.com/l7qj7td

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