A step closer to internet right to privacy

The resolution for internet privacy, which I mentioned before, has been passed by UN rights committee and will now head to the UN General Assembly. This is a great step, which is why I’m giving it it’s own post, however, I want to express disappointment at one point.

The US and key allies Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand joined a consensus vote passing the resolution after language which suggested that foreign spying would be a rights violation was weakened.

All I hear there is some countries saying, “Foreigners don’t deserve the same rights as our citizens.” That attitude, that it’s acceptable to spy on other countries’ citizens but not your own, is a problem. That’s a xenophobic attitude. It shouldn’t matter where someone was born. Americans and Iraqis should share the same rights. It’s not okay that we allow governments to say that just because one lives in a foreign country that they don’t get a right to privacy.

Similarly, shouldn’t one be as outraged at passports as at the Apartheid pass laws? Both limit movement according to an arbitrary characteristics. The pass laws according to race and passports according to nationality. Why are country boundaries seen as something so real?

UN fails to protect free speech

The UN has adopted resolution 16/18, effectively abandoning free speech, the most vital of all human rights. At first glance the resolution appears to be decent with the intention to combat “intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief.” The problem mainly stems from the last end of that list, combating “incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief,” especially when you consider that the source of the resolution is the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The OIC is meant to represent the Muslim world, a world whose goals have almost consistently run contrary to human rights and who has a history of violence against critics. It will be fine to restrict speech that explicitly calls for violence against a group of people but you cannot restrict speech because someone might react violently to what is said. This is a particular problem with the Islamic world where even the most innocuous statements, even in non-Muslim countries can lead to violent retaliations from the Muslim community. Continue reading