UN report on copyright – is the EU really a beacon of human rights?
Wed 25 Feb 2015, 20:00

Copyright has seen a spectacular rise in importance, both politically and legally, in recent decades. The digitisation of cultural and scientific goods has led many rights holders to see strengthened copyright protection as the only means of ensuring the survival of the cultural industry. To a large extent the rights holders’ quest for more legal protection has succeeded – today’s copyright protections are as strong and broad as never before.

According to Farida Shaheed, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, this has caused increasing tension between copyright law and human rights law. Her report on “Copyright policy and the right to science and culture” is diplomatically worded but argues strongly that we need to pay more attention to the human rights repercussions of granting authors – and rights holders – exclusive rights over authorial works.

EFF to UN: you need a privacy watchdog
Wed 4 Mar 2015, 11:40

EFF joined more than sixty civil liberties organizations and public interest groups from across the world yesterday in calling upon the world's governments to support the creation of a United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy.

The special rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council and serve in their personal capacities. The establishment of a special rapporteur on the right to privacy is a key step that the United Nations can take to ensure that the right to privacy is given meaning and practical application in the light of technological developments. A special rapporteur would play a critical role in developing common understandings and furthering a considered and substantive interpretation of the right to privacy in a variety of settings.

The right to privacy is one of the few civil and political rights without specialist attention from a United Nations mandate holder. Privacy is an independent right, enshrined in a variety of international human rights treaties. There is a pressing need to better articulate the content of this right as part of international human rights law and produce guides on its interpretation, particularly as modern technologies are enabling communications surveillance—and consequent interference with this right—on an unprecedented and damaging scale.

Europe calls for swift passage of law to collect flight passengers’ data
Wed 28 Jan 2015, 20:20

The European executive on Wednesday called for the prompt passage of legislation to collect and retain information on anyone flying into or out of the EU, as part of a package of counter-terror policies following the jihadi attacks in Paris and alleged foiled terrorist murders in Belgium.

A European commission note seen by the Guardian calls for the swift adoption of the collection of passenger name records, including bank details, mobile numbers and meal preferences, for those flying in and out of the EU and their retention for up to five years for access by the police and security services.

The Romanian cybersecurity law is declared unconstitutional
Wed 21 Jan 2015, 17:00

With majority of votes, the Romanian Constitutional Court decided that the cybersecurity law is unconstitutional. This represents the 4th attempt to pass laws violating human rights under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

The Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI) together with 14 other NGOs filed an amicus curiae to support the unconstitutionality claims (in Romanian). In its press release (in Romanian), the Constitutional Court mentioned not only the articles which were brought into attention by the civil society groups, but also showed that putting the National Security Agency (SRI) in charge of cybersecurity is also unconstitutional.

Background information about the cybersecurity law is available here.

US bill prohibits government mandating backdoors in technolgy
Thu 4 Dec 2014, 18:19

Today, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden introduced a bill to prohibit the government from mandating backdoors in hardware and software technologies. The legislation prohibits any federal agency from intentionally weakening consumer encryption standards.

UN approves privacy resolution
Fri 9 Jan 2015, 22:40

The UN General Assembly formally approved a major resolution on the right to privacy yesterday, by consensus. The resolution spotlights the privacy violations that are enabled by advances in technology, overbearing government surveillance, and corporate complicity. As communications have gone global, so too must privacy protections. Privacy rights limited by national borders are increasingly meaningless. This resolution contains strong language that definitively places mass surveillance under international human rights law.