The United States Delivered the Following Joint Statement at the 54th Session of the Human Rights Council
Heightened Risks Associated with Surveillance Technologies and the Importance of Safeguards in the Use of these Tools
54th Session of UN Human Rights Council
Joint Statement as Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
Item 8 General Debate
Thank you, Mr. President.
We deliver this statement on behalf of 58 countries, including the Freedom Online Coalition.
Responsible government use of surveillance technologies should aim to improve safety and security while respecting human rights and the rule of law, including international human rights obligations and commitments. Responsible users should also work to prevent and mitigate adverse human rights impacts.
The use of technologies associated with surveillance, such as Internet controls, big data analytic tools, AI-driven persistent video surveillance, and intrusive surveillance software, including commercial spyware, should not enhance the capacity to violate or abuse human rights and target human rights defenders, journalists, activists, workers, union leaders, political opposition members, and other perceived critics. Such tools should not be used in an arbitrary or unlawful manner to infringe privacy, curb dissent, restrict access to information, or limit the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.
We call on governments to take steps to ensure the use of these technologies is lawful and responsible, in accordance with states’ domestic law and international obligations and commitments. Governments should also establish safeguards that apply to the collection, handling, and disclosure of personal information obtained using these technologies to uphold universal human rights and the rule of law. Governments may incorporate principles such as lawfulness, necessity, proportionality, or reasonableness. Governments should foster transparency, oversight, and accountability and mitigate unlawful or unintended bias in their use of these tools.
We encourage governments to work closely with industry, civil society, and other stakeholders to inform approaches, set appropriate standards, and encourage responsible practices in this sector.
I thank you.
- Cabo Verde
- Costa Rica
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia
- Republic of Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States