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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs