Thursday 5 March 2015

Special Rapporteur David Kaye Wants to Hear From YOU

This June, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye will present the United Nations Human Rights Council with the results of his findings on “the relationship between freedom of expression and the use of encryption to secure transactions and communications.”

Right now, Kaye needs your help to complete his research.

The Special Rapporteur has issued a call for submission of Information regarding the intersection of freedom of expression, encryption and anonymity; particularly, he is interested in hearing from nongovernment actors with a vested interest in the topic—you. 
To date, Kaye has received and made available 24 submissions of Information. The recommendations thus far—if heeded in June—will improve cybersecurity worldwide.

According to ARTICLE 19, a London-based human rights organization in defense of freedom of expression and information: “Weak encryption standards or ‘backdoors’—whether mandatory or otherwise—undermine people’s trust in the Internet and constitute a serious interference with fundamental rights.”

The California-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a defender of digital civil liberties, “recommend[s] that Internet intermediaries should not block or limit the transmission of encrypted communications, and recommend[s] that Internet service providers be encouraged to design systems for end-to-end encryption.”

The Karisma Foundation, a Colombian digital rights NGO, explains: “Finally, we believe it appropriate to emphasize that national security, while important, is not absolute; thus, it is not sufficient reason to prohibit both encrypted communication and anonymity on the Internet. On the contrary, it is a way we as ordinary citizens have of protecting our communications and identity from abuses or threats that can be caused by third parties, including the State.” 

Marco Kuhnel, Sebastian Schweda, and Steffen Harting, of Germany, write: “Encryption standards are not only vital to maintain fundamental rights—hence the free use of encryption constitutes a derived universal right--, but by Art. 12 UDHR (and also Art. 19 and Art. 27) the state members of UN are obliged to ensure the availability of encryption techniques whenever personal data are sent or received electronically inside their territory.”

Special Rapporteur David Kaye can be reached at or Palais des Nations/CH-1211 Geneva 10/Switzerland. Take advantage of the opportunity to be one of the many voices reminding the United Nations that internet anonymity and encryption are universal human rights.

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