By Heini Järvinen

On 1 April 2014, several EDRi members, including Article 19, Access and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, along with Privacy International, the Association for Progressive Communications, Human Rights Watch and the World Wide Web Foundation submitted a response to the consultation undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The consultation was launched in preparation of the report requested in the Resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age (68/167).

The call for submissions covers 5 themes: 1. the meaning of interferences with the right to privacy in the context of communications surveillance 2. the out-dated distinction between communications data and content 3. the conceptualisation of mass surveillance as inherently disproportionate 4. the extra-territorial application of the right to privacy 5. the need for legal frameworks to provide protections for the right to privacy without discriminating on the basis of nationality

The submission makes the following recommendations to the High Commissioner. First, the United Nations should formally recognise that any interference with the right to privacy must be in accordance with international human rights law, and that that indiscriminate surveillance is an inherently disproportionate interference with human rights. It also calls on the High Commissioner to reiterate that States owe human rights obligations to all individuals subject to their jurisdiction. Finally, the submission emphasises that the right to privacy is an universal right whose enjoyment does not depend on nationality or location.

These organisations are instigators and signatories of the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance (“The 13 Principles”). The submission therefore calls on the OHCHR to use the Principles as a guiding framework for the analysis of the right to privacy in the digital age.

All input from stakeholders will be made available on OHCHR website.

UN resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age (20.11.2013)
http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/C.3/68/L.45/Rev.1

OHCHR Call for Consultation (26.02.2014)
https://docs.google.com/a/accessnow.org/file/d/0B6XUJ0SW4C68MllEWktTR0FLMGc/edit

Statement from A19 (01.4.2014)
http://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/37507/en/ohchr-consultation-in-connection-with-general-assembly-resolution-68-167

Statement from Privacy International (02.04.2014)
https://www.privacyinternational.org/blog/un-must-reject-mass-surveillance-to-protect-global-privacy-rights

Full submission to OHCHR Consultation from Privacy International, Access, EFF, Article 19, APC, HRW, and World Wide Web Foundation (01.04.2014)
http://www.article19.org/data/files/medialibrary/37507/14-04-01-privacy.pdf

The 13 Principles (10.07.2014)
https://en.necessaryandproportionate.org/text

(Contribution by Raegan MacDonald – EDRi member Access – International)