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UN damns DRIP even before it is law

Posted by on July 16, 2014.

Navi Pillay

Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

There is a huge irony that on the very day that the British Government, Small Brother to the US Big Brother global surveillance alliance, whips its lackeys into subservience in order to get yet another surveillance bill through the House of Commons, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, warns:

…Governmental mass surveillance is “emerging as a dangerous habit rather than an exceptional measure” and that practices in many States reveal “a lack of adequate national legislation and/or enforcement, weak procedural safeguards, and ineffective oversight.”
Dangerous practice of digital mass surveillance must be subject to independent checks and balances – Pillay

Well, the UK government solves the legislation issue by passing more laws. The UN, however, means laws to protect privacy, not laws to give it up.

On weak procedural safeguards, the UK government says we have the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) for oversight. The IPT, however, behaves more like an office of GCHQ than an oversight board — at the time of writing it has never upheld a single complaint against GCHQ.

The UK government says its surveillance requirements are necessary and proportionate, and consequently in line with human rights requirements. They are not.

UK ISPs would do well to heed Pillay’s report. It includes, for example,

There may be legitimate reasons for a State to require that an information and communications technology company provide user data; however, when a company supplies data or user information to a State in response to a request that contravenes the right to privacy under international law, a company provides mass surveillance technology or equipment to States without adequate safeguards in place or where the information is otherwise used in violation of human rights, that company risks being complicit in or otherwise involved with human rights abuses.
The right to privacy in the digital age

The new UK Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) bill may well become law within the next few days — but the companies that are forced to comply with it will be involved in human rights abuses.

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