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Fight Back! Demand an end to mass surveillance

In 2013, we learned digital surveillance by world governments knows no bounds. 11 February 2014 is the Day We Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance. Sign on to the Necessary and Proportionate Principles. Add your voice to thousands of citizens, experts, academics and organisations raising theirs against this pernicious practice.

As technologies that facilitate State surveillance of communications advance, States are failing to ensure that laws and regulations related to communications surveillance adhere to international human rights and adequately protect the rights to privacy and freedom of expression.

In response, digital rights activists united on the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communication Surveillance – also referred to as the Necessary and Proportionate Principles. Launched in July 2013, the principles were the outcome of a global consultation with civil society groups, industry and international experts in communications surveillance law, policy and technology, a process led by Privacy International, Access, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

These principles spell out how existing human rights law applies to modern digital surveillance and can provide civil society groups, industry, States and others with a framework to evaluate whether current or proposed surveillance laws and practices are consistent with human rights.


Who has signed?

  • More than 250,000 citizens.
  • More than 400 organizations, including 40 IFEX members, supporting human rights, access to knowledge, the environment, women rights, free expression, and a free press.
  • Experts, academics, security researchers, political parties and elected officials from more than 17 countries.
View the full list of signatories here.

Add your name to the petition now and join the The Day We Fight Back campaign!

This petition of signatures will be delivered to the United Nations, world leaders, and other policy makers who need to hear the voice of the people demanding an end to mass surveillance.


Summary of the 13 Principles

Legality: Any limitation on the right to privacy must be prescribed by law.

Legitimate Aim: 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.

Necessity: Laws permitting communications surveillance by the State must limit surveillance to that which is strictly and demonstrably necessary to achieve a legitimate aim.

Adequacy: Any instance of communications surveillance authorised by law must be appropriate to fulfill the specific legitimate aim identified.

Proportionality: Decisions about communications surveillance must be made by weighing the benefit sought to be achieved against the harm that would be caused to users' rights and to other competing interests.

Competent judicial authority: Determinations related to communications surveillance must be made by a competent judicial authority that is impartial and independent.

Due process: States must respect and guarantee individuals' human rights by ensuring that lawful procedures that govern any interference with human rights are properly enumerated in law, consistently practiced, and available to the general public.

User notification: Individuals should be notified of a decision authorising communications surveillance with enough time and information to enable them to appeal the decision, and should have access to the materials presented in support of the application for authorization.

Transparency: States should be transparent about the use and scope of communications surveillance techniques and powers.

Public oversight: States should establish independent oversight mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability of communications surveillance.

Integrity of communications and systems: States should not compel service providers, or hardware or software vendors to build surveillance or monitoring capabilities into their systems, or to collect or retain information.

Safeguards for international cooperation: Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) entered into by States should ensure that, where the laws of more than one State could apply to communications surveillance, the available standard with the higher level of protection for users should apply.

Safeguards against illegitimate access: States should enact legislation criminalising illegal communications surveillance by public and private actors.

The letter

Click here to view the full text of the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communication Surveillance – also referred to as the Necessary and Proportionate Principles.

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