UNHRC: Oral statement on the right to freedom of expression online

Article 19, Access, The Association for Progressive Communications, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Privacy International, and Reporters without Borders delivered the following joint oral statement to the 25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council:

We all thank Madame Pillay for her report (A/HRC/25/19) and her efforts to enhance the protection of human Rights in the context of counter-terrorism.

We all also share her concerns about the use of broadly-formulated counter-terrorism legislation adopted by many States to curb legitímate activity.

Civil society has been at the forefront of asking the Council and Member States to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms online including freedom of expression, freedom of association and the right to privacy for all people.

To assist the Council and Member States, civil society groups have now developed a set of 13 Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance. The Principles, elaborated in a side event during the last session of the Council, were developed by international experts in human Rights and communications surveillance law.

These Principles, endorsed by 400 organizations and some 300,000 individuals worldwide, are fully consistent with the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. They explain how international human rights law applies in the online environment, in light of communications surveillance technologies and techniques.

Our concerns and the 13 principles, as well as recommendations for action,  were again summarized during the seminar on Privacy in the Digital Age last week.

Mr President, the Council and Member States must uphold human rights principles, democracy and the rule of law in this new online environment, just as they are required to do offline.