International Civil Liberties Organisations’ Statement on Dragnet U.S. Government Surveillance Program

DUBLIN / LONDON / NEW YORK – In response to revelations that a U.S. government program known as “PRISM” gives the United States National Security Agency unprecedented access to the servers of major technology companies, an international group of Civil Liberties Organisations issued the following joint statement:

Recent reports indicate that the U.S. government has the ability to acquire and monitor the content of communications and other electronic data, including location data, from international users of popular Internet services in real-time. That capability allows for the monitoring of, the communications, movements, and associations of countless people around the world. Such vast and pervasive state surveillance violates two of the most fundamental human rights: the right to privacy and to freedom of expression.

Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights requires that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence,” and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights grants similar protections. The PRISM program sweeps in such an enormous amount of personal information that it simply cannot comply with those standards. PRISM also threatens the right to freedom of expression, the right to hold opinions without interference, and the rights to seek, receive, and impart information.

International law also requires that states provide legal protections to guarantee against interference or attacks on individual privacy. The United States must comply with these international obligations and end its extraordinary intrusion into the lives of billions around the world.

Signed by the following independent national organisations committed to the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI); the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA); Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS); the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR); Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU); the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL); the Kenya Human Rights Commission and Liberty. These organisations cooperate globally through the International Network of Civil Liberties Organisations (INCLO).

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