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World Fights Back Against the Biggest Brother in History

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Posted on Nov 28, 2013
Steve Rhodes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

By Sonali Kolhatkar

(Page 2)

Treating privacy as a fundamental, internationally recognized human right may offer the best protection to ordinary people from all countries. But even Americans, who are ostensibly better protected legally, have found that their privacy is often routinely violated and that they cannot do anything about it.

The U.N. resolution, if it passes, would lack enforcement mechanisms. The question then arises, what is the point? According to Rodriguez, it “definitely makes clear what is the standard to protect privacy globally and if the U.S. doesn’t comply with it then they will be in violation of international law. And that’s a huge problem because the United States has been seen as a champion of promoting free expression in the United Nations. So having them taking a position that infringes upon international law is not good for the reputation of the United States’ foreign policy.”

It is likely that the U.N. General Assembly will debate and vote on a version of the draft resolution in the coming months. Regardless of how robust the protections of privacy are in the final version, or how strongly the U.S. and its allies will feel bound by it, public opinion is certainly shifting in favor of treating privacy as a human right.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Privacy International are leading a collaboration with hundreds of civil society organizations worldwide on a framework reflecting global consensus on privacy rights called Necessary & Proportionate. That effort reflects a growing global grass-roots movement forming in parallel to the U.N.’s attempt to protect privacy. It remains to be seen whether the world can win the fight against the Biggest Brother history has ever witnessed.


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