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US-based surveillance & data collection: New UN report provides guidance on PRISM

This post originally appeared on the blog for Association for Progessive Communications, written by Shawna Finnegan and Carly Nyst, for APCNews and Privacy International:

At the 23rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, released his latest report – an analysis of the implications of States’ surveillance of communications on the exercise of the human rights to privacy and to freedom of opinion and expression. The report covers a number of important issues, including lack of judicial oversight, unregulated access to communications data, mandatory data retention, exceptions for national security, identity disclosure laws, restrictions on encryption and key disclosure laws, extra territorial application of surveillance laws and extra-legal surveillance.

This report by the Special Rapporteur comes at an important time, as leaked classified documents detailing surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) reveal consistent violations of international human rights obligations. According to these leaked documents surveillance is performed by the NSA program ‘PRISM’, which allows for the collection of personal data including the content of search history, email, and online chats. Targeted at non-US communications, the programme raises serious concern over extra-territorial application of surveillance laws, and unregulated access to communications data...

To read the full post, please go here.

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