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Government Surveillance

CDT Urges PCLOB to Account For Global Human Rights In Surveillance Debate

The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) has joined a broad international coalition of civil liberties and human rights organizations and advocates in urging the newly empowered Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) to factor in the universal human rights of so-called “non-U.S. persons” when making recommendations around the U.S. surveillance programs.

In a letter submitted to Board members today, the coalition called on PCLOB to ensure that section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act meets international human rights standards for surveillance as reflected in the recent report from UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue, International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications (July 2013), as well as other U.S. human rights commitments and international law.

“While the July workshop of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board finally brought domestic civil liberties back into the conversation about security in the United States, the Board barely mentioned the broader global impact of these sweeping surveillance programs. The fact is, U.S. surveillance programs are infringing on the privacy rights of people around the world and the disregard for global human rights must be addressed,” said Matthew Shears, CDT Director of Global Internet Policy and Human Rights.

“It is well within PCLOB’s mandate to consider the privacy and free expression rights of those both within and outside of the U.S. in their deliberations and recommendations. Huge amounts of international and wholly foreign communications traffic flow through the U.S., giving the U.S. surveillance programs a broad and far-reaching impact on the rights of individuals across the globe. PCLOB has the opportunity to show significant leadership in holding the U.S. government accountable to its global human rights obligations,” said Emma Llanso, CDT Policy Counsel.

The coalition specifically asks PCLOB to ensure any government surveillance program is subject to a strong legal framework that is transparent, necessary to achieve a legitimate goal, proportionate to that goal, authorized by a competent judicial authority, and subject to public oversight.

Llanso further discusses the need for PCLOB to factor in global human rights in her CDT blog post.

The coalition letter is available here and the public is invited to add their name to the growing list of supporters.

To speak with someone from CDT on this issue, contact Brian Wesolowski at [email protected], +1-202-407-8814.