Access releases implementation guide to be used for surveillance legal reform and advocacy

This week, Access released an Implementation Guide for the 13 Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance. The Implementation Guide applies the Principles to each step of the government surveillance process, calling on officials to respect human rights no matter the justification for the activity — whether it is law enforcement, national security, or intelligence gathering.

Access, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Privacy International led a broad consultation process to develop the Principles, which were launched in July 2013. Drawing on international law and jurisprudence, and endorsed by more than 400 civil society organizations worldwide, the Principles serve to inform the public debate on the appropriate limits of government surveillance. They speak to a growing global consensus that government communications surveillance has gone too far and needs to be restrained.

The Principles were cited extensively in the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights report on “The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age,” as well as in the report of President Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies. Some of the most prominent technology companies in the world, including Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo, have publicly supported a separate framework that largely echoes the Principles, and both Sweden and the United States have used the Principles as a basis for human rights frameworks adopted internally.

This Implementation Guide provides more detail on how to apply the Principles in practice. It considers each stage of the process of a government application to access an individual’s online information and gives examples and checklists for government agents, judges, and lawyers who are involved in processing applications to access user data. The Implementation Guide is divided into five parts: the government’s application to conduct surveillance, judicial consideration of the application, the commission of the surveillance, appeals and remedies, and international cooperation. It is buttressed by implementing examples throughout, and bounded by a section of defined terminology and a checklist on the different sections of the Guide.

Organizations wishing to sign on to the Principles and join this growing chorus of voices calling for the application of human rights to communications surveillances should visit https://www.necessaryandproportionate.org. If you would like more information or guidance with respect to the Implementation Guide, contact Amie Stepanovich at [email protected].

You can download the Implementation Guide here.