ARTICLE 19 welcomes the report by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression on the use of encryption and anonymity in digital communication (A/HRC/29/32), in a joint civil society statement presented at the UN Human Rights Council today.
We urge all governments to promote the use of strong encryption technologies and to protect the right to seek, receive, and impart information anonymously online. Any laws or regulations that restrict the use of encryption or anonymity online should be revised to comply with the strict three-part test the Special Rapporteur sets out in the report. We also urge information and communications technology (ICT) companies to broadly adopt encryption and other privacy-enhancing measures to safeguard the security of users.
The Internet has been enormously beneficial for the human rights movement and the work of journalists and independent civil society worldwide. Yet it has also created new risks for all users. As the Special Rapporteur’s report recognizes, strong encryption and anonymity are fundamental for the protection of cybersecurity and human rights in the digital age. Encryption and anonymity, separately or together, “create a zone of privacy to protect opinion and belief.” Both are critical to the enjoyment of freedoms of opinion, expression, and association, the press, the right to privacy, and other rights.