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Thirty IFEX members call on governments to respect fundamental human rights of free expression and privacy of communications

(Privacy International/IFEX) - Free expression advocates from around the world gathered this week in Oslo, Norway, at the IFEX General Meeting. Thirty IFEX members signed on to the following resolution on surveillance of communications and the fundamental right to protection of journalistic sources:

Resolution on Surveillance of Communications and Freedom of Expression

New telecommunications laws and technologies adopted by countries around the world increasingly allow for legal and illegal surveillance and significantly affect the ability of journalists to pursue investigations and receive information from confidential and other sources. They also inhibit individuals from being able to seek and receive information.

The problems include:

- Journalists in dozens of countries are the targets of illegal or unregulated surveillance by governments to identify their current and future activities and their sources of information. Companies are also using technical means to monitor journalists and their sources.

- A significant number of countries have adopted new laws that allow for the surveillance of communications in the name of fighting terrorism or protecting public order which do not provide for adequate limits or oversight.

- "Data retention" and cybercrime laws mandate the collection and retention of all telecommunications transactional data including email records, mobile telephone location, instant messaging and SMSs, and web searches without regard to actual specific investigations. These laws often do not limit how the information collected is to be used. They also facilitate the technical interception of communications which allow for increased legal and illegal use of the technique.

- Mandatory registration in telecommunications networks and other means of access such as cybercafés affect persons' right to seek and receive information.

Recently, these problems are increasingly being recognised by human rights bodies such as the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe but this recognition needs to be implemented into national laws and practices.


We the undersigned free expression organisations call on governments to fully recognize that under existing international law all persons have a right to privately communicate without interference except in the most limited circumstances and recognize that journalists have a fundamental right to protection of sources which should not be undermined by surveillance. No surveillance should be conducted without legal authority.

Governments should not adopt laws for anti-terrorism or protection of public order or security which allow for surveillance of communications or obtaining telecommunications records without adequate legal process and oversight which respects the fundamental human rights of free expression and privacy of communications.

Governments should not require that telecommunications providers routinely collect and retain records of all users' activities.

Governments should not require that all persons are required to pre-register or identify themselves before they are allowed to use telecommunications networks.

Governments should review and revise as necessary existing legislation to ensure that rights are protected.


Privacy International
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations
Centre algérien pour la défense et la promotion de la liberté de la presse
Centre for Independent Journalism - Malaysia
Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Freedom House
Freedom of Expression Institute
Globe International Center
Independent Journalism Center - Moldova
Index on Censorship
Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety
International Federation of Journalists
Journaliste en danger
Media Foundation for West Africa
Media Institute
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Rights Agenda
National Union of Somali Journalists
Norwegian PEN
Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d'édition et de création
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión - OLA
Pacific Freedom Forum
Pakistan Press Foundation
Public Association "Journalists"
Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay

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