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Electronic Surveillance and Right to Privacy

The principles of Non-Alignment were formulated at Bandung Conference in 1955. The world has changed considerably since then. Yet, the principles laid down by the founders of Non-Aligned Movement remain valid. The ideals, goals and vision, articulated then, continue to guide the movement. In four and a half decades, since its inception, Non-Aligned Movement has witnessed the break-up of the old international order based on superpower rivalry and colonial domination. Non-Aligned Movement, as the voice of the majority of nations has to play a central role in regulating the advance of humanity. The movement is emerging as the power of the new millennium striving to be open, democratic and forward-looking.

Changing times have thrown up new challenges for Non- Aligned Movement. These challenges call for solutions. Non-Aligned Movement is aware of threats facing mankind – transnational crime, terrorism, violation of human rights and environmental degradation. These threats need to be overcome. Non-Aligned Movement affords its members a forum where they can discuss their common problems, evolve solutions and work out strategies in trying to tackle international problems of peace, security, development, terrorism, human rights and environmental safety. These are problems which extend beyond national borders and require an international approach for solutions.
NAM is expanding the field of interest to include a number of new subjects in addition to the traditional preoccupations such as the struggle for peace and the creation of a New International Economic Order. One of these new subjects of interest is the alarming threat to privacy. The advances in communication technology sector which has seen a dramatic change over years has become the most used mode of information sharing. These have amplified the power of technology improving human life to much greater extent. But with its innumerable beneficial possibilities it has also dawned upon us that these new technologies are easily susceptible to electronic surveillance and interception. The modern intricate and covert uses of these technologies have become a threat to individual privacy and individual rights, freedom of expression and association, restricting the free functioning of a civil society.

NAM has expressed great concern at this negative impact of a facility which was given shape to further human imagination and bridge human gap. Instead the covert uses of these technologies for surveillance and interception of communication have stripped humans of their basic rights of freedom and privacy. NAM called on its member states in its 16th summit to discuss its severity and how it is violating the rights of individual online which he/she enjoys offline as well. It called upon all its members from different countries to be respectful towards individual privacy and also asking them to ensure protection of an individual’s digital privacy. Urging its states to review their procedures, practices and legislation related to communications surveillance, interception and collection of personal data and emphasized the need for States to ensure the full and effective implementation of their obligations under international human rights law.

It has laid down a legal framework which demands its member states to abide by and implement them. It reiterates its international human rights law which lays the framework against which any interference in individual privacy must be assessed. It’s Civil and Political Rights (CPR) branch states that no individual is subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with one’s privacy, family, residence or associations. It also prohibits from any unlawful attack on his/her honour and reputation. It further states that “Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

Adopting the resolution to tackle this issue, NAM had asked its CPR to prepare a report on ‘the right to privacy in digital age’. The report discussed the matter, problem and its possible solution in depth. It condemned the domestic and extraterritorial surveillance or interception of digital/electronic communications and collection of personal data without information let alone on a mass scale. It has stated that it is the duty of each state to national government to look into matters small or large that breach this individual right, taking strict measures as and when required. However, it did mention the need for communication surveillance by governments for security reasons has demanded them to establish rules and limits to not breach any individual or collective rights. The summit further encouraged all parties to share information and perspective on the issues raised and which solution they deem fit to be implemented.






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