The Right to Privacy and efforts to protect it

With the advent of twenty-first century, living patterns have witnessed a sea change. It is not only the pattern of living but also the ways which render meaning to life which have changed. The transformation of industrial era to technological era has been seamless which also brings in consideration the issue of adaptability in these precarious times. Modern thinkers have often wondered over the pace at which human beings are evolving that has made things far more complex than it used to be. One of them being the advances in communication technology sector which has seen a dramatic change over years and has become the most used mode of information sharing. These have amplified the power of technology improving human life to much greater extent.

But with its innumerable beneficial possibilities it has also dawned upon us that these new technologies are easily susceptible to electronic surveillance and interception. The modern intricate and covert uses of these technologies have become a threat to individual privacy and individual rights, freedom of expression and association, restricting the free functioning of a civil society.

NAM has expressed great concern at this negative impact of a facility which was given shape to further human imagination and bridge human gap. Instead the covert uses of these technologies for surveillance and interception of communication have stripped humans of their basic rights of freedom and privacy. NAM called on its member states in its 16th summit to discuss its severity and how it is violating the rights of individual online which he/she enjoys offline as well. It called upon all its members from different countries to be respectful towards individual privacy and also asking them to ensure protection of an individual’s digital privacy. Urging its states to review their procedures, practices and legislation related to communications surveillance, interception and collection of personal data and emphasized the need for States to ensure the full and effective implementation of their obligations under international human rights law.

Privacy being an issue which has gained momentum in the 21st century has attracted large amount of negativity which has caused the Non-aligned movement to create various branches to tackle the issue demanding critical assessment of any instance of interference with a subject’s privacy. It has laid down a legal framework which demands its member states to abide by and implement them. It reiterates its international human rights law which lays the framework against which any interference in individual privacy must be assessed. It’s Civil and Political Rights (CPR) branch states that no individual is subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with one’s privacy, family, residence or associations. It also prohibits from any unlawful attack oh his/her honour and reputation. It further states that “Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

Adopting the resolution to tackle this issue, NAM had asked its CPR to prepare a report on ‘the right to privacy in digital age’. The report discussed the matter, problem and its possible solution in depth. It condemned the domestic and extraterritorial surveillance or interception of digital/electronic communications and collection of personal data without information let alone on a mass scale. It has stated that it is the duty of each state to national government to look into matters small or large that breach this individual right, taking strict measures as and when required. However, it did mention the need of communication surveillance by governments for security reasons has demanded them to establish rules and limits to not breach any individual or collective rights. The summit further encouraged all parties to share information and perspective on the issues raised and which solution they deem fit to be implemented.

The member states while commending the efforts have pointed out steps which may aid in curbing the misuse of the technological world and violation of the right of privacy.

Some of the points stated are as follows:
· Bulk collection of communications data—both content and metadata—threatens privacy and freedom of expression rights.
· Rather than bulk collection, government surveillance should be particularized, with independent judicial oversight.
· Governments that exercise “virtual control” over the digital communications of foreigners have an obligation to respect their privacy rights under the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights (ICCPR).
· The GNI principles and guidelines provide specific measures that can be taken by companies to respect privacy and free expression rights when facing requests by governments for access to data.
· Increased transparency by governments and companies is a key building block to ensure that communications surveillance regimes are consistent with human rights standards.
· Governments and companies should be as specific as possible with their users and the general public about the legal limitations on disclosing surveillance practices.
· Governments should commit to more specific areas of increased transparency based on consultation with other stakeholders.

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