Non-governmental organisations welcome the appointment of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy

News & Analysis
Non-governmental organisations welcome the appointment of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy

Privacy International and twenty-two other organisations from around the world welcome the appointment of Mr Joseph Cannataci as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy.

Today, the President of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Mr Cannataci to fill the post that was created by the Council in March 2015 to address the rising concerns about the enjoyment of right to privacy, particularly in the context of new communications technologies. 

Mr Cannataci's appointment marks a significant step in the strengthening of the protection of the right to privacy at international level. It is also the culmination of a campaign by Privacy International and other NGOs to establish an independent expert on privacy within the UN human rights mechanisms.

In a welcoming letter from Privacy International and 22 other organisations to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, signatories organisations – most of themliving and working in the Global South – describe the challenges they face to have the right to privacy recognised and protected in law and practice in their countries. Challenges range from state surveillance, the ever expanding surveillance industry and companies' collection and use of personal data. The letter notes how technological developments are coupled with a global discourse on security and counter-terrorism that treats the privacy of individuals as an impediment to the pursuit of vaguely or broadly defined national security aims, wrongly pitching privacy against security.

We believe that the Special Rapporteur's role will help address these concerns, by developing common understanding on the right to privacy; monitoring and reporting on its implementation; making recommendations and providing authoritative guidance to States and companies to strengthen the protection of this fundamental human rights.

Mr Cannataci will bring to the post more than thirty years' experience in the area of privacy and data protection, including in relation to the modern challenges posed by new technologies and state surveillance of digital communications.

Privacy International and other organisations working on privacy around the world will support the Rapporteur's work by offering information and analysis of the challenges to protect the right to privacy and offer suggestions on ways to address them.