Electronic Frontiers Australia has become a signatory of 13 privacy principles that protect the privacy and human rights of citizens when it comes to Internet spying and surveillance.
The principles have been endorsed by 270 signatories from organisations around the world since they were released on 20 September at a side event during the 24th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Australian Privacy Foundation is also a signatory.
The principles set out an evaluative framework for governments to assess whether national surveillance laws align with international human rights.
“For the last dozen years, we have witnessed the systematic erosion of civil liberties in the name of national security. It’s time to reassess the balance to ensure that we haven’t dismantled that which we seek to protect,” EFA Chair David Cake said.
Surveillance technologies from organisations such as the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the potential threat to people’s right to privacy have made headlines over the past few months. It has been reported that the NSA has been collecting global financial data, including credit card transactions and data from SWIFT, which runs an international bank messaging system.
In August, Brazil's government took measures to reduce the country's dependence on US services for Internet access in response to reports that the US government had intercepted emails and phone calls of Brazilian citizens.
In June, Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam introduced a ‘get a warrant’ bill to ensure law enforcement agencies only access citizens’ private data under a warrant. He also pointed out where improvements can be made in Australian law to ensure citizens' personal data will not be misused by commercial companies and government agencies.