UN establishes new Special Rapporteur on right to privacy

The UN Human Rights Council has decided to create the mandate of a new Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy. ‘All people must be able to use the internet and new technology without running the risk of being persecuted or suffering reprisals,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

The resolution adopted on 26 March was the result of a joint initiative by Norway, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. 

‘The right to privacy is a prerequisite for freedom of expression and democracy. While there has been far greater focus on challenges to the right to privacy in recent years, we need a more informed debate on how we can better protect this right. In some cases legitimate security measures may conflict with personal privacy considerations. We need more knowledge in this area and a vibrant discussion to ensure the development of rules and mechanisms that can safeguard legal principles and democratic control. The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy can make an important contribution in this area,’ said Mr Brende.   

The new Special Rapporteur will be responsible for reporting on trends, challenges and violations by states of their international obligations regarding the right to privacy. The Special Rapporteur, who is mandated to examine challenges to the right to privacy arising from new technologies, will also be responsible for making recommendations to ensure the promotion and protection of the right to privacy at the national and international level. A decision on who is to be appointed as the new Special Rapporteur will be made in the next few months.

‘Norway’s engagement in the international debate on the right to privacy is part of our efforts to improve the protection of human rights defenders, in line with our recently published white paper on human rights,’ Mr Brende said.

For Norway it was important to secure the support of all states for the resolution. The resolution, which was adopted today without a vote, will reinforce international efforts to promote the right to privacy and freedom of expression and will help to clarify and strengthen the implementation of international norms in this area.