Today and tomorrow the United Nations Human Rights Committee will review the United States’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. To assist in the review of U.S. compliance with the covenant’s privacy protections, the American Civil Liberties Union today released a report, “Privacy in the Digital Age,” which interprets how Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights should protect privacy in an age where technology enables mass surveillance. Article 17 protects everyone from arbitrary or unlawful interferences with their “privacy, family, home or correspondence” from state intrusion. The ACLU urges the Human Rights Committee to issue a new interpretation of Article 17 that fully protects the privacy of everyone from governments everywhere.

This piece originally ran at Defense One.

Since the summer, Americans have learned that the National Security Agency has routinely violated their right to privacy for more than a decade. The world, however, learned they had no such right, whatsoever—at least in so far as the U.S. is concerned—as more and more of the NSA’s worldwide surveillance apparatus was revealed. Months later, the global uproar over NSA surveillance, fueled by stories of the NSA tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal cell phone, led President Barack Obama to concede that everyone should be afforded some level of privacy from U.S. spying.

“[U.S.] intelligence activities must take into account that all persons should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their nationality or wherever they might reside,” the president said in January, “and that all persons have legitimate privacy interests in the handling of their personal information.”

President Obama’s recognition of privacy as a human right, however deficient, isn’t new. It’s actually the law. In 1992, the U.S. ratified the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a human rights treaty that guarantees privacy rights. More specifically, Article 17 protects everyone from arbitrary or unlawful interferences with their “privacy, family, home or correspondence.”

What these protections mean today in our digital age of mass surveillance by the NSA and other intelligence agencies has been one of the many issues considered in Geneva this week, as the U.N. Human Rights Committee –a group of independent human rights experts tasked with overseeing compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights—reviews the U.S.’s human rights record, both at home and overseas. Indeed, the right to privacy, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, is one of the most pressing issues facing the committee during its 110th session.

To continue reading “Privacy Rights are Human Rights,” click here.

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Vicki B.

"President Obama's view of privacy rights, however deficient..."

What the hell's THAT supposed to mean? You think that damn Snowden is the only person who understands privacy while he does a dog and pony show in front of the media? Prancing around and lapping up all the attention. Some privacy advocate. As another person noted, "Mr. Privacy can't get enough media attention."'s certainly a paradox. Most private people feel UNcomfortable in front of mass media.

Why can't anybody say anything good about President Obama? He found Osama bin Laden and that's worth noting, no matter WHAT bad things he's doing with drones. Hell, I think the drone situation is a lot more immediately dangerous than violating a privacy right. I'd rather have my privacy violated if it were a choice between violating that or being targeted in a drone killing.
I have no words that can describe my relief when I heard they'd found bin Laden. I was glad he could no longer send out those hateful messages that he really DID send every month (I had begun believing it was a ruse, that he was dead and someone else was sending out the messages.)
My solace was so deep and all-encompassing that mere words will never be able to convey what it was like to hear that the warlock was dead and that we could relax, at least for a while.
I'm related to someone who died in Tower 1.

I apologize if I come across really intense about this president but my gratitude for him and the Navy Seals overpowers most everything else in my life.

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