Mass surveillance violates human rights

EU Member States must not use tech to violate rights at home and abroad.

The European Parliament has affirmed its commitment to protecting human rights in Strasbourg today (Tuesday), approving a report on technology and the impact of intrusion and surveillance systems on human rights. The report attempts to take stock of to what extent growth in IT and changes in communications remains in keeping with long established human rights principles.

Alyn Smith MEP, Scottish member of the Foreign Affairs Committee has welcomed the report, which opens a path for the implementation of benchmarks and reporting procedures for the export of information and communications technologies. The move comes following concerns that some EU-based companies provide technologies and services to enable human rights violations in third countries.

Alyn said: 

“I was pleased to vote in favour of this report, which specifically underlines the negative impact that misuse of communications technology may have on human rights.

"My parliamentary group has contributed key messages on protection of whistle-blowers and journalists who expose abusive surveillance calling on the EU Member States to adopt appropriate laws. The EU and Member States should promote the global use and development of open standards, of free and open-source software and cryptographic technologies.

“Events such as the NSA, and indeed UK, mass surveillance scandals exposed the need for democratic oversight of intelligence bodies as fast evolving technology opens up opportunities that the law is not quite able to keep on top of.

"National security should never be a pretext for untargeted, secret or mass surveillance programmes, which violate the principles of necessity and proportionality and constitute violations of human rights.

“The report was adopted despite shameful attempts by the European Conservatives and Reformists and the European People's Party group to water it down. Their vote reveals total disregard for the right to privacy and their denial of the complicity by EU corporations and intelligence services in grave human rights violations."