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Council of Europe report highlights human rights impacts of mass surveillance

Council of Europe releases report on the effect of mass surveillance on human rights and expresses deep concerns in particular regarding the right to privacy, to freedom of information and expression, to freedom of religion and to the right to a fair trial. Related items are featured below.

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Report
29 January 2015

Full report

Author: Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

"Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights - Mass surveillance", 26 Jan 2015

The surveillance practices disclosed...endanger...human rights, including the rights to privacy...freedom of information and expression...the rights to a fair trial...and freedom of religion...The Assembly notes that the law in most states provides some protection for...their own citizens, but not of foreigners...In order to rebuild trust among...states...and also between citizens and their...governments, a legal framework must be put in place...which ensures the protection of human rights...An effective tool for the enforcement of such a...framework...is credible protection extended to whistle-blowers who expose violations.

With its PRISM programme...the NSA has “front-door” access to data from nine Internet firms, including Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. The NSA has access to the customer data held by the companies through a (secret) court-approved process...The companies in question first denied having had any knowledge of this programme and later insisted that any cooperation with the intelligence agencies was compelled by law...The NSA paid companies to deliberately set weaker encryption standards as the default choice for their safety software clients...

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Article
28 January 2015

Report expresses concern about impacts of mass surveillance on right to privacy, freedom of information & expression

Author: Natasha Lomas, Techcrunch

"Mass Surveillance Threatens Digital Security And Human Rights, Says European Report", 27 Jan 2015

A...report into mass surveillance by...[the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)] has warned that digital dragnets set up by U.S. government intelligence agencies, and some of the U.S.' allies...elsewhere, are endangering...human rights — such as the right to privacy, to freedom of information and expression, to freedom of religion, and to the right to a fair trial...In its report PACE expresses specific concerns about the anti-democratic practices and structures that have developed...[, such as] secret laws, secret courts and secret interpretations of such laws, which are very poorly scrutinized"...PACE's report is not anti-surveillance, rather it is arguing for "effective, targeted surveillance" of specific suspects...A new privacy-protecting legal framework is required...to rebuild trust between...States...Building in robust protections for whistleblowers, such as Snowden, who are exposing unlawful surveillance practices is also key...

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