Skip to Content

Cybersecurity & Standards, Government Surveillance

United Nations Strongly Reaffirms Fundamental Human Right to Privacy

Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution establishing a dedicated Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy. The Special Rapporteur will be tasked with monitoring, investigating, and reporting on the state of privacy in UN Member States around the world—including where secret surveillance is concerned. The Center for Democracy & Technology is supportive of the resolution and issued the following statement:

“In today’s hyper-connected digital world, the need to promote and protect the universal right to privacy has never been greater. The UN Human Rights Council has strongly reaffirmed that privacy is a core part of human freedom,” said Sarah St. Vincent, CDT Human Rights and Surveillance Legal Fellow.

“A Special Rapporteur on privacy is a monumental step in ensuring that the world remains focused on reining in invasive government surveillance practices that have a chilling effect not only on our right to privacy, but also on our right to free expression. As the resolution clearly states, the same rights people have offline must apply online,” St.Vincent added.

The UN resolution specifically addresses the need for better procedural safeguards and effective domestic oversight, as well as remedies for government surveillance that infringes upon an individual’s privacy rights. It also clearly states that metadata can reveal deeply personal information and that extraterritorial surveillance is a threat to the right to privacy.