This week, Ben Emerson, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, issued a report concluding that mass surveillance is “corrosive of online privacy” and “impinges on the very essence” of the international right to privacy. The report adds to the growing chorus of international voices condemning mass surveillance as an unjustifiable violation of our human rights.
“The Special Rapporteur’s report shows that the US regime for regulating NSA programs fails to comply with international law,” said Patel. “Domestic laws are designed to constrain governments when they target particular individuals, but have little to say about the type of mass surveillance that we see today. Given the severity of the intrusion entailed by mass surveillance, it is imperative that countries, especially those with the most advanced technological capabilities, rethink their approaches to tailor them more closely to national security threats.”
“The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression and opinion, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and now the Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights have all raised serious concerns about mass surveillance,” said Toh. “Countries including the U.S. must heed the call for reform and live up to their obligation to respect the privacy of both nationals and non-nationals.”
The report casts grave doubt on the legality and effectiveness of intercepting the communications and data of “a potentially unlimited number of innocent people in any part of the world.” The report urges countries to only carry out surveillance activities that are strictly necessary and the “least intrusive means” available to protect national security. The report also urges countries to establish “strong and independent oversight” over intelligence surveillance, and avenues for both citizens and foreigners to seek redress for violations of their privacy.