News / USA

    UN Committee Calls For End to Excessive Electronic Spying

    Reuters
    A U.N. General Assembly committee on Tuesday called for an end to excessive electronic surveillance and expressed concern at the harm such scrutiny, including spying in foreign states and the mass collection of personal data, may have on human rights.
     
    The U.N. General Assembly's Third Committee, which deals with human rights issues, adopted the German and Brazilian-drafted resolution by consensus. It is expected to be put to a vote in the 193-member General Assembly next month.
     
    “For the first time in the framework of the United Nations this resolution unequivocally states that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online,” German U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig told the committee.
     
    The United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand - known as the Five Eyes surveillance alliance - supported the draft resolution after language that had initially suggested foreign spying could be a human rights violation was weakened to appease them.
     
    The draft text does not name specific countries but comes after former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden released details this year of a global spying program by the NSA, sparking international outrage.
     
    “We firmly believe that privacy rights and the right to freedom of expression must be respected both online and offline,” U.S. delegate Elizabeth Cousens told the committee after the draft resolution was adopted.
     
    Cousens said it was imperative that human rights and civil society activists be able to use the Internet freely and without fear of reprisal to protect “dignity, fight against repression, and hold governments, including mine, accountable.”
     
    General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, unlike resolutions of the 15-nation Security Council. But assembly resolutions that enjoy broad international support can carry significant moral and political weight.
     
    The draft resolution notes “that while concerns about public security may justify the gathering and protection of certain sensitive information, States must ensure full compliance with their obligations under international human rights law.”

    Privacy 'pivotal' to democracy
     
    It calls on states to review procedures, practices and legislation on communications surveillance and “to establish or maintain existing independent, effective domestic oversight mechanisms capable of ensuring transparency, as appropriate, and accountability for State surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data.”
     
    It also asks U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay to present a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. General Assembly on the protection and promotion of the right to privacy in domestic and extraterritorial surveillance and the interception of digital communications and collection of personal data, including on a mass scale.
     
    “Human right to privacy is pivotal to any democratic society,” Brazil's U.N. ambassador, Antonio de Aguiar Patriota,  told the committee. “Full participation in democracy implies full protection of individual liberties, including the right to privacy in the digital age.”
     
    Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both condemned the widespread spying by the U.S. National Security Agency. The NSA is accused of accessing tens of thousands of French phone records and monitoring phone calls by Merkel and Rousseff.
     
    A North Korean U.N. delegate said spying on heads of state was “a rampant violation of sovereignty and it is interference into the internal affairs, it is an insult, very unbearable.”
     
    North Korea, one of the world's most reclusive and repressive nations accused of starving and torturing thousands of people in a network of prison camps, was one of dozens of co-sponsors of the draft resolution.
     
    A Canadian U.N. delegate told the committee that the distinction in the draft resolution between regular surveillance and spying on a mass-scale was “beside the point.”
     
    “When governments use surveillance to crack down on religious minorities or their political activists, that harass, detain, torture or even kill those targeted, it is not an issue of scale but of a deplorable practice ... that warrants the condemnation of the international community,” he said.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Taisha from: USA
    November 26, 2013 4:11 PM
    yeah... that will do it..!!! couple of signs, couple of stupid painted faces, few slogans... - and you get an end to electronic surveillance

    is it stupidity in Europe that make people think like that..? or just stupidity... or half stupidity and half stupidity...?? what ?? I would expect something that stupid to come from the Iranians or the Arabs...

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora