Intelligence Service and Corporation Violated Freedom of Expression and Privacy Right, 23 Transnational NGOs Urged UN to Form Special Rapporteur

ELSAM, Jakarta – The more sophisticated technology is, the higher violation against freedom of expression and privacy right in several countries. Violations mostly committed by intelligence service and corporation who process personal data of civil society without any clear regulations.

Responding to that problem, Institute of Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) and 23 NGOs from various countries submitted a request to United Nations to immediately establish Special Rapporteur which specifically examines freedom of expression issues. Another NGOs who participated are from Kenya, Argentina, Morocco, India, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Senegal, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Mexico, South Africa, Bangladesh, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

“In our countries, privacy is key to achieve a healthy environment by involving citizens as social control agents over the government. Besides, freedom of expression is a tool to protect individual from discrimination and social marginalization. But those essential rights would be threatened by corporate and political interests,” it was written in a letter addressed to Cannataci as UN’s Special Rapporteur on July 3, 2015.

The letter explained that intelligence service on behalf of national interest and spirit to provide protection from terrorism, would intervene individual’s privacy unlawfully. While the large enterprise, uses technology to export product and give service for the world government in order to increase profits.

Interventions carried out by collecting, deviating and blocking without permission, accessing, observing, and analyzing personal data and communication line of civil society in biometric database. Even they are able to open anonymous data profile by using sophisticated algorithm formula.

“This intervention doesn’t respect human rights aspects. They consider individual privacy as an obstacle for something that is yet unclear but they do it on behalf of national security. This is important because it would threaten freedom, and our privacy right is also an essential element of human rights,” said the letter.

In addition to intervention and mass surveillance, there is also criminalization against legitimate expression. In some countries such activity has been legitimized by legal ground. It becomes a social barrier, because in some countries government with such authority would regulate community activities and even pose a threat to those who document violation on privacy right and investigate state’s policy and practice. It’s compounded by court’s capacity which is lack of special training and knowledge on privacy right and freedom of expression.

“We sincerely hope that United Nations, through the Special Rapporteur can provide academic analysis that guides the society. It also forms a framework on privacy right, such as defining scope of privacy right, particularly in the context of digitalism; as well as identifying mechanism of judicial supervision and others” asked a number of NGOs in the letter.

In addition, these 23 NGOs also recommended to hold an international and regional meeting in the form of international conference. Human rights experts from all around the world will work and cooperate together in this conference to develop analysis and recommendation on protection of privacy right and freedom of expression.

Author: Lintang Setianti