America’s Plan to Kill Online Privacy Rights Everywhere

Dilma Roussef graffitiThe United States of America is shaping up as the evil totalitarian state of the 21st Century if this report from Foreign Policy‘s The Cable is correct:

The United States and its key intelligence allies are quietly working behind the scenes to kneecap a mounting movement in the United Nations to promote a universal human right to online privacy, according to diplomatic sources and an internal American government document obtained by The Cable.

The diplomatic battle is playing out in an obscure U.N. General Assembly committee that is considering a proposal by Brazil and Germany to place constraints on unchecked internet surveillance by the National Security Agency and other foreign intelligence services. American representatives have made it clear that they won’t tolerate such checks on their global surveillance network. The stakes are high, particularly in Washington — which is seeking to contain an international backlash against NSA spying — and in Brasilia, where Brazilian President Dilma Roussef is personally involved in monitoring the U.N. negotiations.

The Brazilian and German initiative seeks to apply the right to privacy, which is enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to online communications. Their proposal, first revealed by The Cable, affirms a “right to privacy that is not to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with their privacy, family, home, or correspondence.” It notes that while public safety may “justify the gathering and protection of certain sensitive information,” nations “must ensure full compliance” with international human rights laws. A final version the text is scheduled to be presented to U.N. members on Wednesday evening and the resolution is expected to be adopted next week.

A draft of the resolution, which was obtained by The Cable, calls on states to “to respect and protect the right to privacy,” asserting that the “same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy.” It also requests the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, present the U.N. General Assembly next year with a report on the protection and promotion of the right to privacy, a provision that will ensure the issue remains on the front burner.

Publicly, U.S. representatives say they’re open to an affirmation of privacy rights. “The United States takes very seriously our international legal obligations, including those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Kurtis Cooper, a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said in an email. “We have been actively and constructively negotiating to ensure that the resolution promotes human rights and is consistent with those obligations.”

But privately, American diplomats are pushing hard to kill a provision of the Brazilian and German draft which states that “extraterritorial surveillance” and mass interception of communications, personal information, and metadata may constitute a violation of human rights. The United States and its allies, according to diplomats, outside observers, and documents, contend that the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does not apply to foreign espionage.

In recent days, the United States circulated to its allies a confidential paper highlighting American objectives in the negotiations, “Right to Privacy in the Digital Age — U.S. Redlines.”…

[continues at The Cable]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

Latest posts by majestic (see all)

9 Comments on "America’s Plan to Kill Online Privacy Rights Everywhere"

  1. howiebledsoe | Nov 21, 2013 at 10:06 am |

    It’s pretty obvious that any and all powerful groups want to get their hands on the access of private info. Hell, this makes the stasi look like schoolteachers. Whoever controls the NSA wields such an unthinkable amount of power, you can bet there are a million evil scumbags vying for a piece of it.

  2. emperorreagan | Nov 21, 2013 at 10:23 am |

    When wasn’t the US shaping up to be an evil totalitarian state? Washington rode out with the army to suppress the whiskey rebellion in 1791, so the country didn’t make it very far before it was happily turning the military on its own people.

  3. What do you expect from a piece of shit nation that won’t ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child?

  4. The constantly surprising part of it all is the blindness involved as individual groups (corporate, NGO, etc) each imagine that the rising tide of intrusion and inspection somehow won’t harm them if they just stay wealthy and influential enough to beat the curve. The truth is that a long term pattern of fiat authority can be weaponized easily and used against partisan opponents just as effectively as it can be used against us mere peons. The only way to win is not to play. Some powers shouldn’t be granted to any authority, because the shifting tides of fortune will inevitably place that power in the hands of those who will abuse it. If people with a modest level of education can’t grasp that, it’s pretty much their own fault. (I’ll admit that especially in the US there has been a decades long blitz to wipe out any traces of classical education, logic and long term thinking…so the generation so handicapped is only MOSTLY to blame for their failures.)

Comments are closed.