Fight against terror should not trump privacy rights – Human Rights Commissioner


European Council’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks (Image from

National security concerns, including the fight against global terror, don’t justify US and UK intelligence services’ clandestine and indiscriminate mass surveillance programs, the Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe has warned.

In a pointed challenge to Britain and America, the Council’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, called for increased transparency and more robust democratic oversight of intelligence agencies’ surveillance techniques.

He also demanded the terms of ‘Five Eyes’ – a cross-border intelligence-sharing pact between Britain, America, Australia, New Zealand and Canada – be published promptly.

In a landmark report entitled ‘The Rule of Law on the Internet in the Wider Digital World’, Muižnieks said the mass retention of data in the absence of any form of suspicion is “ineffective” and “contrary to the rule of law.”

European Union (EU) member states should not carry out these practices or make data retention by third party organizations or firms mandatory, the report warned.

Muižnieks’ research was published in the wake of Britain’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) ruling the legal architecture governing GCHQ mass surveillance is compliant with basic human rights standards.

Read more: GCHQ spying ‘doesn’t breach human rights’ – UK tribunal

But Muižnieks’ report stated otherwise, warning that the revelations first disclosed by former NSA computer analyst and whistleblower Edward Snowden had made it clear that covert and indiscriminate mass surveillance programs breached “European human rights law.”


Reuters / Kieran Doherty

Muižnieks insisted human rights violations relating to such mass surveillance could not be justified “by the fight against terrorism” or other“threats to national security.”

“Such interferences can only be accepted if they are strictly necessary and proportionate to a legitimate aim,” the report stated.

Read more at RT News

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