GENEVA, September 20, an international coalition including Open Net Korea, EFF, Access, Article 19, Privacy International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, Association for Progressive Communication announced 13 principles applicable to state surveillance on communications and present the principles to Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion in a side event of the 24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.
Pillay, speaking at the Human Rights Council stated in her opening statement to the Human Rights Council: “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.” La Rue, made clear the case for a direct relationship between state surveillance, privacy and freedom of expression: “Undue interference with individuals’ privacy can both directly and indirectly limit the free development and exchange of ideas.”
These principles are the result of a year-long discussion among experts on law and communications, who “extracted from high courts and legislatures around the world those principles responsive to and influential in the changing digital environment”, according to K.S. Park, Professor, Korea University Law School. “Companies and governments around the world can spare many dollars and conflicts by adhering to them.”
The highlights of these principles pertinent to the current events are as follows:
Firstly, the identity of a party to communication is also considered ‘protected information’ subject to the warrant doctrine. No longer governments around the world can identify the sources of communications without judicial supervision. Secondly, the principles apply equally to extraterritorial surveillance, and therefore NSA’s PRISM. Thirdly, the governments cannot compel the service providers to institute a “real-name” system, addressing concerns on, among other things, Korea’s online game real name system and adult content real name system. Fourthly, the state must inform all people surveillanced of the fact of surveillance, at the latest, upon its completion. Most laws around the world require notice but in various time frames, and sometimes, as late as when the surveillanced are brought to trial.