Privacy International defends the right to privacy across the world, and fights surveillance and other intrusions into private life by governments and corporations. Read more »


Policy laundering

Democracy demands that policies be fully debated in national legislatures, not laundered through international fora.

Western governments are increasingly using international fora to circumvent national legislatures and due process and thus avoid difficult debates around civil liberties and human rights. The UK and US governments have repeatedly pushed forward policies at institutions like the UN and the EU, and brought those policies home as 'international obligations' and 'treaties' that must be rubber-stamped, rather than properly debated in Parliament or Congress. After the terrorist attacks of September 2001, the Bush Administration pushed the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN agency, to adopt a biometric passport standard that compelled the collection of biometrics from around the world, including of US citizens, rather than pursue a biometric passport through Congress. After the July 2005 bombings in London, the British government pushed mandatory communications data retention through the European Union after having failed to get the policy approved in Parliament, and then brought it back home as 'an EU requirement'. We worked with partners at the American Civil Liberties Union and Statewatch to highlight this abuse of power by governments, to inform national policy-makers about the real ramifications of these policies, and, where possible, to promote debate and combat dangerous policies at the international level. 

Policy laundering

Subscribe to Policy laundering