Birgitta Sponsors a Motion in Inter-Parliamentary Union

Birgitta Sponsors a Motion in Inter-Parliamentary Union

The Inter-Parlimentary Union is an organisation that lets MPs from parliaments around the world communicate  and cooperate with each other. An opportunity to consider and voice opinions on matters of international interest and promote human rights. A video describing the union can be seen below:

In 2011 the Union took on the case of Member Birgitta Jónsdóttir. Her human rights had been violated by the United States when Twitter was directed to hand over data connected to her Twitter account. The Union unanimously adopted a resolution reminding the United States that Parliamentarians’ communications should be regarded as absolutely private:

that freedom of expression goes to the heart of democracy and is essential to members of parliament; without the ability to express their opinions freely, members of parliament cannot represent the people who have elected them; if they cannot receive and exchange information freely without fear of interference they cannot legislate and hold the government to account”.

In the next meeting of the Union, Birgitta and Korean parliamentarian Mr H.J. Jhun, are proposing a motion.  A motion that will remind the world’s representatives that Human Rights extend to communications and especially digital communications. The full resolution can be seen here in PDF format –  below is a summary of the points included.

Summary of provisions:

  1.  it calls on parliaments to look at promoting and increasing the ways citizens can participate in exchanging ideas over the internet. To do this governments should provide equal access to the net, uphold net neutrality and remove any barriers to free speech. This is to enhance democracy in the 21st century.
  2. call for review of laws that cover the actions of government and intelligence agencies to make sure they comply with international laws and human rights, especially those that relate to privacy. Also they should make sure that private companies do not contravene their customers’ human rights.
  3. ensure that the legal system complies with international human rights where the interception, analysis, collection and commercial use of data is concerned. Also they should share the results of reviews.
  4. prohibit the interception, collection or analysis of personal data without the informed consent of the people concerned or when a court thinks there is reasonable grounds to suspect criminal activity.
  5. make sure that privacy protection cannot be evaded by a government using other countries, or multinational companies, in order to spy on citizens.
  6. enact laws on data protection for both public and private sectors. Make strict conditions for permission to intercept, collect and analyse data, ensure that it is secure and anonymous and that it is properly destroyed. There should be independent bodies to make sure that these are done and that the bodies have the powers to review practices and address complaints. Also these bodies should ensure compliance with international law and Human Rights for online and offline activities.
  7. that laws are in place to make sure that voluntary and forced collaboration in surveillance programs between government and private companies are transparent. Private tech companies should be reminded to keep in mind the Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business so that customers are fully informed as to how their data is being gathered, stored, used and shared with third parties. Also parliaments should promote global standards on user agreements and the development of user friendly data and internet protection.
  8.  all legislation that covers surveillance, privacy and personal data must be based on the principles of legality, transparency, proportionality, necessity and the rule of law.
  9. that Parliaments specify in which circumstances the right to privacy can be interfered with and establish strict rules under which surveillance can be carried out and what happens to the collected data.
  10. that a balance be struck between national security and individual freedoms and any measures taken to counter terrorism threats comply with human rights and protect democracy.
  11. that they establish oversight mechanisms and make sure that the oversight is monitored in a way that means errors and breaches can be reported and corrected.
  12. that they acknowledge the role that civil society plays in overseeing the executive arm of government and welcome their assistance in oversight and policy making.
  13. that they implement comprehensive protection for whistle-blowers in line with international standards and best practice.
  14. hold government and corporate bodies accountable for human rights violations and to impose suitable measures such as criminal prosecution, fines and withdrawal of business licenses. Compensation should be paid to individuals who have been harmed.
  15. uphold the right of victims of privacy violation and other freedom breaches are guaranteed recompense in law.
  16. to work with the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to work with them to produce a compilation of best legislative practices

The next meeting of the IPU will be in Geneva, 17 – 21 October 2015


Featured image: CC BY G20NWD