UN: Mass Spying May Be a Human Rights Violation

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 26 2013 7:31 PM

UN: Mass Spying May Be a Human Rights Violation

The logo of the United Nations projected on its headquarters in New York.

Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

Following the steady stream of revelations about the NSA’s surveillance program, a United Nations human rights committee passed a “right to privacy in the digital age” resolution on Tuesday. The resolution, co-sponsored by Brazil and Germany, two countries whose leaders were spied on by the NSA, states that “that surveillance and data interception by governments and companies ‘may violate or abuse human rights,’” Agence France Presse reports.

The resolution was supported by the US “after language that had initially suggested foreign spying could be a human rights violation was weakened,” Reuters reports. The main point of contention, according to the Guardian, “was over language stating that foreign nationals should have the same rights to privacy as the citizens of countries carrying out mass surveillance. US law currently gives citizens far greater protection than foreigners from NSA operations.”


The resolution is expected to go before the UN General Assembly for a vote next month. The resolution, if passed, would be non-binding, but, as Reuters reports, “assembly resolutions that enjoy broad international support can carry significant moral and political weight.”

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.


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