Brazil, Germany debut UN Web privacy resolution (Update 2)

Nov 07, 2013 by Peter James Spielmann

Brazil and Germany formally presented a resolution to the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday urging all countries to extend internationally guaranteed rights to privacy to the Internet and other electronic communications.

The draft resolution follows reports of U.S. eavesdropping on foreign leaders, including Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, that angered and dismayed U.S. allies. But it does not name the United States or any other nation as an offender.

General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion and carry moral and political weight.

Rousseff canceled a state visit to Washington after classified documents leaked by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden showed that the NSA hacked the computer network of Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras and scooped up data on emails and telephone calls flowing through the country.

Merkel and other European leaders expressed anger recently after reports that the NSA allegedly monitored Merkel's cell phone and swept up millions of French telephone records.

"Today, there seem to be hardly any technical limitations for accessing, storing or combining personal data. But should everything that is technical feasible also be allowed? Where do we draw the line between legitimate security concerns and the individual right to privacy? And how do we ensure that human rights are effectively protected both offline and online?" German Ambassador Peter Witting asked, while introducing the jointly sponsored German-Brazilian resolution to the General Assembly committee that deals with human rights.

Brazil's Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota said: "In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of opinion and expression, and no effective democracy."

U.S. officials declined to comment on the draft resolution.

The draft resolution proposes expanding the protection guaranteed in a key global human rights treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to electronic communications and privacy. It "affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular the right to privacy."

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, however, allows the suspension of its guarantees "for the protection of national security or of public order."

But Dina Pokempner, the general counsel of Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press that "The United States has made no contention that it faces a public emergency threatening the territorial integrity or sovereignty of the country, nor told anyone it is derogating from its treaty obligations, so this isn't really in play."

Jamil Dakwar, the director of human rights for the American Civil Liberties Union, told AP that "What is clear is that dragnet surveillance of international communications is inconsistent with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is indiscriminate and overreaching."

Explore further: UN resolution aims to protect right to privacy

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

UN resolution aims to protect right to privacy

Nov 01, 2013

Brazil and Germany, whose leaders have allegedly been targeted by U.S. eavesdropping, are asking the U.N. General Assembly to adopt a resolution calling on all countries to protect the right to privacy guaranteed under international ...

Germany, Brazil want UN privacy resolution

Oct 25, 2013

Germany and Brazil are working on a UN General Assembly resolution aimed at highlighting international anger at US data snooping in other countries, diplomats said Friday.

Brazil seeks UN move vs. electronic surveillance

Oct 26, 2013

Brazil said Friday it is working with other countries to draft a U.N. General Assembly resolution that would guarantee people's privacy in electronic communications. That follows a series of reports of alleged U.S. eavesdropping ...

Brazil 'wants to question tech giants'

Oct 25, 2013

Shocked by evidence of eavesdropping on government communications, Brazilian police intend to ask US permission to question the heads of tech giants, Globo television reported Friday.

Brazil announces secure email to counter US spying

Oct 14, 2013

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced Sunday that her government was creating a secure email system to try and shield official communications from spying by the United States and other countries.

Recommended for you

Net neutrality balancing act

5 hours ago

Researchers in Italy, writing in the International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management have demonstrated that net neutrality benefits content creator and consumers without compromising provider innovation nor pr ...

Twitter rules out Turkey office amid tax row

Apr 16, 2014

Social networking company Twitter on Wednesday rejected demands from the Turkish government to open an office there, following accusations of tax evasion and a two-week ban on the service.

How does false information spread online?

Apr 16, 2014

Last summer the World Economic Forum (WEF) invited its 1,500 council members to identify top trends facing the world, including what should be done about them. The WEF consists of 80 councils covering a wide range of issues including social media. Members come ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...