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U.S. Statement at HRC Dialogue on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly
June 17, 2015

UN Human Rights Council, Item 3, Clustered Interactive Dialogue – FOE/FOA
As delivered by Eric Richardson
17 June 2015

Thank you, Mr. President and both Special Rapporteurs.

The United States welcomes the report on the use of encryption and anonymizing technologies.  While the United States is not in full agreement with some of the legal and technical analysis of the report, we certainly agree that these are topics worthy of careful consideration. We appreciate the report’s focus on implications for the online security of Internet users, particularly human rights defenders and vulnerable populations.

The report recognizes that encryption and anonymity technologies can both enable Internet users to freely express themselves and access useful information.  At the same time they can be used by malicious actors to facilitate and conceal their abuses.  How States promote the former and discourage the latter must be guided by their internationally-recognized human rights obligations.

Regulation of the use of such technologies follows a rule of law framework and abides by all applicable human rights obligations.  There are important conversations to be had about appropriate legal regimes and due process protections in this regard.  We must also take account of the practical and technological realities that impact access to information by law enforcement. The United States supports the adoption of strong encryption.  We also encourage an informed discussion about how best to accomplish the twin goals of protecting privacy and public safety.

We would like to thank SR Kiai for his report.   We applaud his emphasis on the importance of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  These play a significant role in helping states protect the rights to freedoms of peaceful assembly and association. We do not agree with some of the legal analysis, such as on extraterritorial obligations of states.  We do agree, however, with many of the assertions presented in the report. Where States violate human rights, it is more difficult for businesses to respect those same rights.  In some instances domestic law may require actions inconsistent with human rights.  At times, State practices may encourage businesses to take actions that undermine the enjoyment of human rights.  In contrast, States that respect human rights can create environments where businesses do not undermine the enjoyment of human rights. As the Guiding Principles remind us, it is important for States to govern justly and effectively.  Individuals must be protected not only from misconduct by the State but also from the human rights impact of non-State actors, including business enterprises.

We’d like to end by asking the Special Rapporteur: What good practices can you share that demonstrate a good collaboration between States and businesses to advance freedoms of peaceful assembly and association?