nandpToday Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), Australia's leading voice for Digital Rights since 1994, joins a huge international coalition in calling upon governments around the world to assess whether national surveillance laws and activities are in line with their international human rights obligations.

EFA has endorsed a set of international principles against unchecked surveillance. The 13 Principles set out for the first time an evaluative framework for assessing surveillance practices in the context of international human rights obligations.

A group of civil society organisations officially presented the 13 Principles this past Friday in Geneva during the 24th session of the Human Rights Council, at a side event hosted by the Permanent Missions of Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Hungary. This event was attended by Navi Pillay, the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, Frank LaRue.

EFA Chair, David Cake said, “For the last dozen years, we have witnessed the systematic erosion of civil liberties in the name of national security. It’s time to reassess the balance, to ensure that we haven’t dismantled that which we seek to protect. EFA is very pleased that our international friends have been able to present this statement of principles to the UN.”

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaking at the Human Rights Council stated in her opening statement on September 9:

“Laws and policies must be adopted to address the potential for dramatic intrusion on individuals’ privacy which have been made possible by modern communications technology.”

Frank La Rue, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion made clear the case for a direct relationship between state surveillance, privacy and freedom of expression in this latest report to the Human Rights Council:

“The right to privacy is often understood as an essential requirement for the realization of the right to freedom of expression. Undue interference with individuals’ privacy can both directly and indirectly limit the free development and exchange of ideas. … An infringement upon one right can be both the cause and consequence of an infringement upon the other.”

Representatives of Privacy International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Access, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, Association for Progressive Communications, and the Center for Democracy and Technology all are taking part in the event.

Find out more about the Principles at

Comments are closed.