UN General Assembly Approves Draft-Resolution Titled ‘Right to Privacy in the Digital Age’
The Third Committee of the UN General Assembly approved 18 draft resolutions, including one on “The right to privacy in the digital age”.
“Through this resolution, the General Assembly establishes, for the first time, that human rights should prevail irrespective of the medium and therefore need to be protected both offline and online,” Brazil’s representative said, echoing the statement delivered by his President during the opening of the sixty‑eighth session.
UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay said that while “modern communications technology provides a powerful tool for democracy… it has also contributed to a blurring of lines between the public and private sphere.”
Ambassador Dr. Hanns Schumacher of Germany said, “Every person is entitled to a ‘private sphere’ free from undue interference or surveillance by the State or other actors.”
Schumacher urged the international community and the Human Rights Council, in particular, to “strike a sound balance between legitimate public and security concerns and the fundamental human right to privacy in the digital age.”
The draft, approved without a vote, would have the General Assembly call upon Member States to review their procedures, practices and legislation on the surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data, including mass surveillance, with a view to upholding the right to privacy by ensuring the full and effective implementation of all relevant obligations under international human rights law.
Following the approval, some delegates stressed the need for agreed international human rights mechanisms in relation to ensuring privacy and freedom of expression. Some expressed regret over the lack of a specific reference to such mechanisms in the draft, while others applauded the consensus as a clear international reaction to the national and extraterritorial electronic surveillance activities conducted by the United States.