The United Nations General Assembly has reportedly adopted a resolution to protect the right to privacy in the digital age amidst the growing debate surrounding the controversial mass surveillance programmes of the US spy agencies.
Following reports that global leaders, including German chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, were being monitored as part of the surveillance programme, the two nations introduced the resolution.
According to stuff.co.nz, the resolution affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy and has called on the 193 UN member states to respect and protect that right.
The resolution has called on all countries to review their procedures and practices regarding the surveillance of communications with a view to upholding the right to privacy under international human rights law.
A senior Internet researcher at Human Rights Watch, Cynthia Wong said that given the scale of snooping that technology now enables, all states should modernise privacy protections or they risk undermining the Internet's potential as a tool for advancing human rights.
Meanwhile, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Human Rights Program, Jamil Dakwar said that the resolution sends a strong message to the US that it is time to reverse course and end NSA dragnet surveillance.
The report said that the General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion and carry political weight.
The need to protect the individual privacy came in spotlight after whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed the US’ alleged mass surveillance programmes targeted at citizens and world leaders alike, in which users’ web and phone data was monitored and collected as part of anti-terrorism programmes.