UN Draft Surveillance Treaty Dangerously Expands State Surveillance Powers Without Robust Privacy, Data Protection Safeguards


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This is the third post in a series highlighting flaws in the proposed UN Cybercrime Convention. Check out Part I, our detailed analysis on the criminalization of security research activities, and Part II, an analysis of the human rights safeguards. 

As we near the final negotiating session for the proposed UN Cybercrime Treaty, countries are running out of time to make critical improvements to the draft text. Delegates meeting in New York from July 29 to August 9 must finalize the convention’s text that, if adopted, will expand surveillance laws dramatically and weaken human rights safeguards significantly. This proposed UN treaty is not a cybercrime treaty; it is an expansive global surveillance pact.

Countries that believe in the rule of law must stand up and either defeat the convention or dramatically limit its  scope, adhering to non-negotiable red lines as outlined by over 100 NGOs. In an uncommon alliance, civil society and industry agreed earlier this year in a joint letter that the treaty as it was currently drafted  must be rejected  and amended to protect privacy and data protection rights—none of which have been made in the latest version of the proposed Convention.

The UN Ad Hoc Committee overseeing the talks and preparation of a final text is expected to consider a revised but still-flawed text  in its entirety, along with the interpretative notes, during the first week of the session, with a focus on all provisions not yet agreed

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