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    Associated Press: UN advances Internet privacy resolution

    The Associated Press reports that the United Nations is moving forward with a resolution concerning online privacy:

    UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution sponsored by Brazil and Germany to protect the right to privacy against unlawful surveillance, following months of reports about U.S. eavesdropping abroad.

    The symbolic resolution, which seeks to extend personal privacy rights to all people, followed a series of disclosures of U.S. eavesdropping on foreign leaders, including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, that surprised and angered allies. […]

    The resolution expresses deep concern at “the negative impact” that such surveillance, “in particular when carried out on a mass scale, may have on the exercise and enjoyment of human rights.” […]

    The consensus adoption of the resolution means will it also unanimously pass the whole 193-member General Assembly in December. General Assembly resolutions aren’t legally binding but reflect world opinion and carry political weight.

    The United States did not fight the measure after it engaged in lobbying last week with Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which comprise the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing group, to dilute some of the draft resolution’s language.

    The key compromise dropped the contention that the domestic and international interception and collection of communications and personal data, “in particular massive surveillance,” may constitute a human rights violation.

    U.S. delegate Elizabeth Cousens told the committee that the United States welcomed Brazil and Germany’s sponsorship of the resolution and was pleased to support “privacy rights and the right to freedom of expression.”

    The draft resolution directs the U.N. human rights chief to report to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on the protection and promotion of privacy “in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance … including on a mass scale.”

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