A Right to Privacy

A Brazilian and German UN initiative seeks to apply the right to privacy in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to online communications. All states are called "to respect and protect the right to privacy". Violations should be outlined like human rights violations. A final version of the text was scheduled to be presented to U.N. members on Wednesday evening and the resolution is expected to be adopted next week.

Publicly, U.S. representatives say they're open to an affirmation of privacy rights. But a confidential paper highlighting American objectives in the negotiations, Right to Privacy in the Digital Age -- U.S. Redlines.

  1. Clarify that references to privacy rights are referring explicitly to States’ obligations under ICCPR and remove suggestion that such obligations apply extra-territorially.

  2. Clarify that the focus of the resolution is on "unlawful" or "illegal" surveillance and interception of communications.

    (For an example: §215 US PATRIOT Act supports a "sensitive collection program" targeting large numbers of Americans - it has to be ok.)

  3. Clarify that violations of privacy rights to not necessarily violate freedom of expression.

If privacy in online communications became a human rights status it will not stop espionage. But US government's wants to be able to say "we haven't broken the law and our constitution, we're not breaking the law and our constitution, and we won't break ....".


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