UN Report on Impact of State Surveillance on Privacy and Freedom of Expression

On 17 April 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, has submitted his Report  analysing the implications of States’ surveillance of communications on the exercise of the human rights to privacy and to freedom of opinion and expression of the in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 16/4. While considering the impact of significant technological advances in communications, the Report underlines the urgent need to further study new modalities of surveillance and to revise national laws regulating these practices in line with human rights standards.

In previous reports (A/HRC/17/27 and A/66/290), the Special Rapporteur had analysed the unprecedented impact of the Internet on expanding the possibilities of individuals to exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression. He had expressed concerns at the multiple measures taken by States to prevent or restrict the flow of information online, and had highlighted the inadequate protection of the right to privacy in the Internet.

Building on his previous analysis, the aim of his current 23-page Report is to identify the risks that the new means and modalities of communications surveillance pose to human rights, including the right to privacy and the freedom of opinion and expression. In order to meet their human rights obligations, The Report recommends that States must ensure that the rights to freedom of expression and privacy are at the heart of their communications surveillance frameworks. To this end, the Report recommends the following:

  • updating and strengthening laws and legal standards (paragraphs 81-87),
  • facilitating private, secure and anonymous communications (paragraphs 88-90),
  • increasing public access to information, understanding and awareness of threats to privacy (parargraphs 91-94),
  • regulating the commercialization of surveillance technology (paragraph 95-97) and
  • furthering the assessment of relevant international human rights obligations (paragraphs 98-99).

Report of 17 April 2013 by Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, to the Human Rights Council, United Nations, General Assembly, A/HRC/23/40

Verlag Dr. Otto Schmidt vom 01.07.2013 14:17

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