Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, issued the following statement to mark today’s Human Rights Day (10 December):
Every day is human rights day but the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides a special opportunity to confront the issue. I am very moved by the images of the protests on Kyiv’s streets. They show just how relevant the question of the right to freedom of expression and assembly is, even in Europe!
Yet the protection of fundamental human rights must also be improved further in our climes. Since the revelations concerning Internet surveillance by intelligence agencies emerged, confidence in the integrity of one of humanity’s most important forms of communication has been dealt a serious blow.
The technological possibilities of extensive surveillance of digital data transfer could endanger the privacy of every single person. The United Nations drew attention to this fact recently in a resolution co-sponsored by Germany and Brazil. It is therefore vital to show that privacy protection tools can also be used within the scope of the opportunities offered by modern digital communication.
Privacy protection is something which affects us all: Even Christmas greetings we send via email are not intended to be read by others! I would like to use Human Rights Day as an opportunity to draw attention to the need to intensify this debate.
On 26 November 2013 the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly unanimously approved the draft resolution on “The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age” co-sponsored by Brazil and Germany. The resolution calls upon all states to observe human rights, especially the right to privacy, in surveillance activities and data collection, and calls for a report from the High Commissioner for Human Rights to be submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council and to the Third Committee of the General Assembly in autumn 2014.