World’s MPs commit to action on digital freedom and fairer migration
Inter Parliamentary Union
Geneva, 21 October 2015
Parliamentarians from 137 countries have committed to action aimed at tackling two of the most challenging issues facing the world today – migration and the protection of digital freedoms – as they concluded a global parliamentary conference in Geneva.
Adopting a resolution on democracy in the digital era at the 133rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the MPs have set new standards on protecting democracy and digital freedoms in an age of mass surveillance.
The resolution urges parliaments to review national laws to prohibit the interception, collection, analysis and storage of personal data without informed consent of concerned individuals or valid court order.
It underscores the need for privacy protection to be consistent across domestic and international borders, and calls on parliaments to ensure national law cannot be bypassed by data-sharing agreements with foreign States or multinationals.
The 25 point resolution emphasizes the importance of striking a balance between national security and individual freedoms in ensuring that measures taken in the name of national security and counter-terrorism don’t undermine democracy or threaten human rights.
Parliaments are urged to make sure that attempts to curb democratic voices online, including those of journalists and human rights defenders through imprisonment, censorship, hacking or other repressive means are strictly forbidden in national legislation.
Coherent and comprehensive laws to protect whistleblowers in line with international standards are also strongly recommended.
The IPU Assembly, which focused on identifying parliamentary action for a fairer, smarter and more humane migration against a backdrop of a global migration and refugee crisis, outlined a set of measures that MPs could take to protect migrants and maximize the full potential of the world’s oldest human phenomenon.
In a statement adopted at the conclusion of the Assembly, the MPs committed to working towards the ratification of various international conventions that protect migrants’ and refugee rights.
Addressing global and national legislative gaps or grey areas, including the responsibility for searching and rescuing people found in distress at sea or laws on the responsibility for people fleeing environmental disasters was encouraged.
The revision of national laws to ensure access to basic services for all migrants and refugees irrespective of their status, the regulation of the informal sector, particularly the recruitment of low-skilled migrant workers, and the promotion of safe, regular channels for migration, are amongst a wide-ranging set of actions identified by the MPs.
To tackle the growing xenophobia around the world, the MPs acknowledged their responsibility to lead by example in combating stereotypes against migrants, promoting anti-discrimination legislation and in communicating rationally and factually on migration.
“Migration is ultimately an opportunity to positively transform lives, society and economies. We have seen that throughout history. But it has never been easy or without price for the migrant, or the countries of origin and destination,” said IPU President Saber Chowdhury. “This is the most complex challenge of our time. We as parliamentarians must get it right. The potential for positive change that success would bring is incalculable.”…
:: Democracy in the digital era and the threat to privacy and individual freedoms
4. Calls on parliaments to review their national frameworks and State practices with a view to promoting and increasing public participation and involvement in the digital era, free exchange of information, knowledge and ideas and equal access to the Internet and, with a view to enhancing democracy in the 21st century, encourages parliaments to remove all legal limitations on freedom of expression and the flow of information and to uphold the principle of Net neutrality;
5. Urges parliaments to carefully review national laws and the practices of government agencies and/or surveillance organizations acting on their behalf so as to make sure that they comply with international law and human rights, especially as they relate to the right to privacy, and calls on parliaments to guarantee, as part of that review, that private and public companies will not be forced to cooperate with the authorities on practices that impair their customers’ human rights, with the exceptions provided for in international human rights law;
6. Calls on parliaments to ensure that national legal frameworks comply fully with international human rights law when applied to interception, analysis, collection, storage and commercial use of data and to share reviews and information from individual States and the IPU on related cases;
7. Urges parliaments to review their legislation in order to prohibit the interception, collection, analysis and storage of personal data, including when those actions are of an extraterritorial or bulk nature, without the informed consent of the individuals concerned or a valid order granted by an independent court on grounds of reasonable suspicion of the targets’ involvement in criminal activity;
8. Underscores that privacy protections must be consistent across domestic and international borders and calls on parliaments to make sure that privacy protections in national law cannot be bypassed by reliance on secretive and informal data-sharing agreements with foreign States or multinationals;
9. Calls on parliaments to enact comprehensive legislation on data protection, for both the public and private sectors, providing, at the minimum, for strict conditions regarding permission to intercept, collect, analyse and store data, for clear and precise limitations on the use of intercepted and collected data, and for security measures that ensure the safest possible preservation, anonymity and proper and permanent destruction of data; and recommends the establishment of independent and effective national data-protection bodies with the necessary power to review practices and address complaints, while further urging parliaments to ensure that their national legal frameworks on data protection are in full compliance with international law and human rights standards, making sure that the same rights apply to both offline and online activities;
10. Also calls on parliaments to ensure through legal means that all collaboration on various surveillance programmes between governments and companies, entities and all other organizations is subject to parliamentary oversight, insofar as it does not hamper the conduct of criminal investigations;
11. Further calls on national parliaments and governments to encourage the private technology sector to honour its obligations to respect human rights, bearing in mind the Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business, as customers of these companies must be fully informed of how their data is being gathered, stored, used and shared with others, and further calls on parliaments to promote both global norms on user agreements and more development of user-friendly data-protection techniques which counter all threats to Internet security;
12. Urges parliaments to reject the interception of telecommunications and espionage activities by any State or non-state actor involved in any action, which negatively affects international peace and security, as well as civil and political rights, especially those enshrined in Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence” and that “everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”;
13. Recognizes the need for parliaments to specify, in relative detail, the circumstances under which any interference with the right to privacy may be permitted, to establish strict judicial procedures for the authorization of communications surveillance and to monitor the implementation of those procedures, limits on the duration of surveillance, security and storage of the data collected, and safeguards against abuse;…