Metamorphosis Foundation, MDC and NGO Infocenter call upon Macedonia to protect privacy against unchecked internet surveillance

Metamorphosis Foundation, the Media Development Center (MDC) and NGO Infocenter are joining a huge international coalition in calling upon Macedonia to assess whether national surveillance laws and activities are in line with their international human rights obligations.

Our organizations have 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.

The 13 principles presented to the Human Rights Council: legality of privacy limitations, limitations should be necessary and have a legitimate aim, the surveillance of communications should be adequate and proportional with the aim; determinations related to communications surveillance must be made by a competent judicial authority; states should respect and guarantee individuals’ human rights and they should be informed in a timely manner about the surveillance of their communications, communications surveillance should be transparent and subject to public oversight, the integrity of communications and systems should be ensured, safeguards for international cooperation should be established, as well as safeguards against illegitimate communications surveillance.

In order to increase the citizens’ confidence in the state institutions, and ensure their democratic functioning, Macedonia has to establish mechanisms for civil control and accountability of the government agencies that are authorized and possess equipment for monitoring and surveillance of online communication. Privacy is a fundamental human right guaranteed with the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia and personal data protection must be raised to the highest level by all stakeholders in society: the government, business and civil society sector.

A group of civil society organizations officially presented the 13 Principles this past Friday (September 20) in Geneva during the 24th session of the Human Rights Council, at a side event attended by Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, Frank LaRue and representatives of Privacy International, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Access, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders), Association for Progressive Communications), and the Center for Democracy and Technology. The event was hosted by the Permanent Missions of Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Hungary.

Navi Pillay, the United Nations 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.”

For additional information about the 13 Principles, as well as a list of the signatory organizations, please visit https://NecessaryandProportionate.org

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