Archive for October 21, 2014

‘The right to privacy in the digital age’

Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights*


::: above is the 16pp report in full – pdf – source: UN :::


V. Conclusions and recommendations: (excerpt)…

47. International human rights law provides a clear and universal framework for the promotion and protection of the right to privacy, including in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance, the interception of digital communications and the collection of personal data. Practices in many States have, however, revealed a (/HRC/27/3716) lack of adequate national legislation and/or enforcement, weak procedural safeguards, and ineffective oversight, all of which have contributed to a lack of accountability for arbitrary or unlawful interference in the right to privacy.
48. In addressing the significant gaps in implementation of the right to privacy, two observations are warranted. The first is that information relating to domestic and  extraterritorial surveillance policies and practices continues to emerge. Inquiries are  ongoing with a view to gather information on electronic surveillance and the collection  and storage of personal data, as well as to assess its impact on human rights. Courts at the national and regional levels are engaged in examining the legality of electronic surveillance policies and measures. Any assessment of surveillance policies and practices against international human rights law must necessarily be tempered against the evolving nature of the issue. A second and related observation concerns the disturbing lack of governmental transparency associated with surveillance policies, laws and practices, which hinders any effort to assess their coherence with international human rights law and to ensure accountability.

*Ben Emmerson QC (United Kingdom) is the Special Rapporteur (UN) on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. On 1 August 2011, he took up his functions on the mandate that was created in 2005 by the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights and renewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council for a three year period in September 2010. As Special Rapporteur he is independent from any Government and serves in his individual capacity.

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21 Oct 2014 | Christine Milne

This is a significant moment for Australia as we remember Gough Whitlam and his momentous contribution to our nation. He was Prime Minister for only three years but he swept all before him. We all mourn his passing and celebrate his great life.

He was a larger than life figure whose leadership profoundly changed the nation for the better, forever.

Mr Whitlam made us a progressive nation and put us on the global map. After decades of conservative government, in came Gough.

His passion for social justice, education and the arts was legendary. He improved Australia’s humanitarian and cultural standing in the world by ratifying the Human Rights Convention and the World Heritage Convention.

Mr Whitlam was a champion for the environment, establishing the National Parks and Wildlife Service and protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

I remember it keenly, being at university at the time, with so many young people who had lived in fear of being ‘called up’ that he ended conscription and completed the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam.

Mr Whitlam ended university fees and brought about federal funding on a needs basis for public schools. For the first time it didn’t matter how much your family earned, you could access quality education. He brought the Commonwealth into housing and health for the first time.

His significant work on land rights and establishing the Department of Aboriginal Affairs set us on the path to further recognition of Australia’s first people.

Internationally, his recognition of China and his visit there was critical to the redefinition of Australia as an Asian nation.

Rest in peace Gough Whitlam. On behalf of the Australian Greens I send our deepest thoughts, sympathies and thanks to the Whitlam family and to all those who knew and loved him.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s lawyer Gavin Millar QC spoke recently (16/10/14) about mass surveillance of the media industry at a conference organised by the NUJ and the IFJ. Millar, of Doughty Street Chambers, is supporting the Bureau’s application to the European Court of Human Rights challenging the UK government on its routine surveillance of journalists’ communications.

If the ECHR decides there is inadequate protections for legitimate journalistic communications the UK government will be ruled to be in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights and will be forced to respond.

The case was filed in the court on September 12 2014. Lawyers working on the case include Millar, Conor McCarthy at Monckton chambers and Rosa Curling at Leigh Day solicitors.

Millar spoke on the second panel of today’s conference, Big brother is watching you: mass surveillance of the media industry, alongside prominent media lawyers from ITN and the Guardian, as well as the president of the Newspaper Guild and the Guardian’s defence and intelligence correspondent.

The conference was hosted by the Guardian.

Read about the Bureau’s challenge to the UK government over whether UK legislation properly protects journalists’ sources and communications from mass surveillance programs here. You can also get the Bureau’s court documents or read a summary of the case.

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