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Governments urged to preserve fundamental freedoms in the age of mass surveillance

A Latvian border guard works with the surveillance system in the border crossing point in Terehova, 3 May 2014
A Latvian border guard works with the surveillance system in the border crossing point in Terehova, 3 May 2014

REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

As the global debate over the intelligence programs revealed by Edward Snowden approaches its first anniversary, on 28 May 2014 ARTICLE 19 and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published a new legal analysis of the Necessary & Proportionate Principles, a guiding framework for countries to apply international human rights law to communications surveillance.

Currently, there are few legal or technological constraints on international monitoring, data gathering, and use of digital communications. This report serves as important context and background as states around the world discuss the future of privacy.

"As our everyday interactions, activities and communications now emit a continuous stream of revealing information, the question has become: how do we preserve fundamental freedoms in the digital age?" EFF International Rights Director Katitza Rodriguez said. "This paper explains how and why we must rein in unchecked surveillance state at home and abroad and protect the freedoms of everyone, regardless of citizenship or statelessness."

Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19, added: "Mass surveillance violates our rights to freedom of expression and privacy. Almost a year after the Snowden revelations, little to no progress has been made in ensuring that surveillance practices meet international legal standards. This report shows that mass surveillance laws must be overhauled as a matter of urgency."

The Necessary & Proportionate Principles were launched in July 2013 after a year of consultation between privacy advocates and technology experts, and have since gathered momentum across the globe and in the United Nations itself. More than 400 organizations and 300,000 individuals have endorsed the principles, which articulate how unchecked surveillance power can threaten privacy, association and free expression.

Download the legal analysis.
international_n_p_principles_analysis_a19_eff.pdf (439 KB)

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