UN votes to protect privacy in digital age

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 18, 2013 at 5:18 pm •  Published: December 18, 2013
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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at protecting the right to privacy against unlawful surveillance in the digital age on Wednesday in the most vocal global criticism of U.S. eavesdropping.

Germany and Brazil introduced the resolution following a series of reports of U.S. surveillance, interception, and data collection abroad — including on Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — that surprised and angered friends and allies.

The resolution "affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy."

It calls on the 193 U.N. member states "to respect and protect the right to privacy, including in the context of digital communication," to take measures to end violations of those rights, and to prevent such violations including by ensuring that national legislation complies with international human rights law.

It also calls on all countries "to review their procedures, practices and legislation regarding the surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data, including mass surveillance, interception and collection, with a view to upholding the right to privacy of all their obligations under international human rights law."

The resolution calls on U.N. members to establish or maintain independent and effective oversight methods to ensure transparency, when appropriate, and accountability for state surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data.

General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion and carry political weight.

Brazil's Rousseff canceled a state visit to Washington after classified documents leaked by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden. The documents revealed Brazil is the top NSA target in Latin America, with spying that has included the monitoring of Rousseff's cellphone and hacking into the internal network of state-run oil company Petrobras.

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