Some views on “Finding the balance between Human Rights and surveillance”

Cristina Vela & José Manuel García-Margallo, Telefónica, S.A.   In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack there have been calls for more security. Former UN special rapporteur...

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In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack there have been calls for more security. Former UN special rapporteur Frank La Rue remarked that states have an obligation to protect citizens and strengthen security. He explained that surveillance can be used according to rules but the problem is that there is a loss of capacity in monitoring the procedures. However “mass surveillance is inherently an abuse of privacy”.

Technologies are good in essence, the problem is the bad use of them. Technologies have helped in advancing Human Rights and empowering citizens, and through providing better access to knowledge have also had a positive impact on education and the media.

European Commission’s DG Trade commented that they shared European Parliament’s concerns on the export of surveillance tools to third countries. They expressed the need for a flexible and targeted approach. Mr. Magnus Nordéus (Digital Europe) showed his concerns regarding restrictions for export controls and highlighted that new control by the EU should be proportionate. Digital Technology has a lot of power in Human Rights, the greatest example was the Arab Spring.

From the academic point of view, Prof. Marianne Kneuer commented that autocratic regimes are put under pressure by Internet but also offers attractive potential to these undemocratic regimes. Sarah McKune (Citizen Lab) thinks that collaboration and transparency are key when we talk about privacy and that trade measures such as export control needs to go hand in hand with other political measures.

Wenzel Michalski (Human Rights Watch) recalled how important is taking into consideration human rights when doing business. Ms Romero (European External Action Service) underlined what is evident in our eyes, “surveillance should be based on the rule of law” It´s clear that we need to respect the rules.

To conclude MEP Marietje Schaake intervened to remind that security, technology, trade interests and Human Rights should go hand in hand and she emphasized the importance of creating smart European legislation taking into account multilateral agreements. She ended up her intervention saying that companies should be responsible in those issues to avoid losing reputation and that self-regulation is not enough.


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