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UN Human Rights Chief: Online Privacy Just As Important As Other Human Rights

UN Human Rights Chief: Online Privacy Just As Important As Other Human Rights
December 27, 2013

Privacy protection for worldwide online users may become more of an issue as several members of United Nations have voiced their displeasure with current laws. U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said in an interview with BBC Radio 4 an Internet user's online rights are just as important as any other type of human rights. 

"Combined and collective action by everybody can end serious violations of human rights," Pillay said. "That experience inspires me to go on and address the issue of Internet [privacy], which right now is extremely troubling because the revelations of surveillance have implications for human rights ... People are really afraid that all their personal details are being used in violation of traditional national protections."

Discussion Of Privacy Protection Laws The Key To Changing Them
​Pillay, who is a native of South Africa, compared the recent chatter of governments surveying online users to the discussion of apartheid in South Africa. Pillay believes the same pressures that helped end apartheid can help end government intrusion.

The U.N. has asked Pillay to file a report on digital privacy protection rights. This report is being undertaken after former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee Edward Snowden leaked classified documents regarding the U.S. tracking and collecting personal data, the RT Network reported.

Privacy protection has been a hot button issue in the U.S. as of late. With the Snowden leaks and the recent data breach of 40 million Target customer, consumers may want to look at these actions U.N. officials are trying to do. Pillay is pushing for more people to start a conversation about privacy rights with the hope it will change lawmakers minds.

UN High Commissioner Proponent Of Online Rights
​Pillay has been a major figure in promoting the awareness of online rights and securing tighter privacy protection laws. In December 2010, Pillay defended whistleblower Wikileaks after the site published thousands of classified U.S. documents, the RT Network Reported.

Resolution Passed To Defend Online Users
The U.N. is already doing their part to fix privacy protection laws. The U.N. General Assembly unanimously agreed on a resolution that would safeguard privacy rights against improper online surveillance, The Associated Press reported. The resolution calls for all 193 member states of the U.N. to respect each state's privacy rights and end violations. The resolution was agreed upon after reports of the U.S. monitoring and collecting data on several world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazil President Dilma Rousseff.

Pillay said in an interview with the BBC these online rights are important and abuses of power need to stop.

"I don't grade human rights," Pillay said. "I feel I have to look after and promote the rights of all persons. I'm not put off by the lifetime experience of violations I have seen."

Eduard Goodman is chief privacy officer at IDentity Theft 911.

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