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Technology / Cybersecurity

UN sets up privacy watchdog

The United Nations has agreed to set up a privacy watchdog in response to the growing concerns of the effects of digital technology on human rights.

In a debate yesterday, the Human Rights Council adopted four resolutions to create the mandate for a special reporter for the next three year, as well as calling on all members of the UN to support the initiative and comply with requests for information and visits.

Whilst recognising the development potential of the internet, the council noted that under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights governments are prohibited from subjecting their citizens to "arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence".

It also agreed that "the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy".

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Russia meanwhile used the motion as an opportunity to attack the US for "massive violations of the right to privacy", according to minutes of the meeting, a reference to the snooping programmes uncovered by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In recent months the US and the UK have also been criticised by the cybersecurity industry for plans to install backdoors into encryption services, allowing spies to monitor communications.

Reacting to the news, Peter Splinter, Amnesty International’s representative to the UN, said: "UN action is essential to analyse the impact of surveillance on privacy and free speech.

"Security agencies show a misguided and ever-growing appetite for data collection; someone has to watch the watchers."

This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.