The UN calls for protection of privacy in cyberspace

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A high-ranking UN official called on Tuesday for urgent global action to protect privacy in cyberspace, as the issue has crossed national borders and lies “at the intersection of privacy and security interests.”

UN Special Rapporteur Joseph Cannataci, who was at the UN Human Rights Council here to discuss cyberspace privacy and protection, said cyber peace depends on “states’ willingness and ability to work together on achieving synergy between security interests and privacy in cyberspace.”

“Regulating surveillance in cyberspace therefore also advances prospects for cyber peace,” he said.

The Special Rapporteur has led the development of a draft legal instrument on government-led surveillance, including mechanisms for trans-border access to personal data. However, it is expected to take several more years of international efforts before such a document receives the necessary consensus.

Cannataci claimed that oversight mechanisms for national surveillance of communications and the Internet do not always exist, and are “frequently ineffective and do not provide adequate transparency and accountability” even if they do.

He said the global community needed to take urgent action to develop a legal framework on privacy and surveillance in cyberspace so that the right to privacy is respected within individual countries and across national borders.

Cannataci has asked the Human Rights Council to recommend that this legal framework be put to the UN General Assembly as a matter of importance, as it would resolve a number of outstanding problems including jurisdiction.

“This state of affairs is bedeviled by problems of jurisdiction which clearly show that concerted action by UN member states is needed, most probably in the form of an international legal instrument,” Cannataci said.

Xinhua Silk Road Database

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