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The UN is working on a move that may grant universal rights to online privacy. This move is born out of a proposal intended to limit the reach of the NSA and spy agencies of other countries. The US is unwilling to accept such restrictions, which would include checks on their surveillance activities.
Universal Online Privacy Negotiations
The proposal for putting controls on internet surveillance activities was originally submitted by Brazil and Germany. They put forward that surveillance done freely by the NSA and similar foreign agencies should be restricted. The UN is now working on the move to make online privacy a basic human right as an extension of that original proposal. Brazil’s President Dilma Roussef is participating closely in the related negotiations. A resolution is anticipated within this week. The proposal requests online privacy rights similar to those universally enjoyed by the citizens of UN member countries. But it also seeks from U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay a report at the annual U.N. General Assembly on the status of online privacy rights. This is intended as a measure to make certain that these rights are continually supported and maintained.
Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, or ICCPR, people have the right to privacy. Brazil and Germany now seek, with the help of the UN, to extend those privacy rights to online activities and communications. The proposal included references to privacy rights that protect people against random intrusions into aspects of their private lives. These included family and home in addition to online communications. The proposal understood that governments must conduct surveillance for the protection of citizens. But the collection of delicate information must be put under some form of control. Governments must also therefore meet any terms that fall under international human rights laws. The UN will be responsible for enforcing any controls that result from the negotiations.
The US Response to Universal Online Privacy
US representatives to the UN have declared that they are willing to reaffirm and promote the privacy components under the ICCPR. But on the sidelines, US representatives are working hard to eliminate references to foreign surveillance in the proposal, which includes the bulk interception and gathering of metadata and personal data. These activities are stated in the proposal as being an abuse of human rights. The US and its supporters assert that the ICCPR should not be applied to foreign surveillance activities. They proposed through a classified document disseminated to their supporters that the inclusive privacy rights affect a country’s duty to its own citizenry and not to foreign spying. In the same paper they encourage their supporters to reject the argument of Brazil and Germany that ongoing invasive online surveillance activities could also equate to infringements on freedoms of expression. The US instead wants to focus this portion on what it deems to be illegal surveillance.
VPN in Support of Universal Online Privacy
UN resolutions cannot be enforced by any international court. In time they may solidify into international agreements. And as they gain momentum will be a strong basis for lawful arguments. Meantime, online privacy can be secured through the use of VPN services. VPNs have long protected individual internet users from invasive mass data collection and storage. A good VPN service along with the use of private and secure online data storage facilities can prevent these intrusions. As it is, the US or any other country for that matter is not bound to respect the human rights laws of foreigners. This means that the personal and sensitive data of any foreign internet user is fair game without the protection of a VPN.
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