It’s time to make a collective commitment to human rights, and stop the dangerous, unchecked, and proliferating use of spyware technology. Access Now, the Government of Catalonia, the private sector, and civil society from across the globe are demanding concerted global change to this uncontrolled industry through the Geneva Declaration on Targeted Surveillance and Human Rights.
“Digital technologies have the power to advance human rights. Surveillance technology does the opposite — it robs people and communities of privacy, agency, and freedom,” said Laura O’Brien, Senior UN Advocacy Officer at Access Now. “We must put an end to the deployment of these treacherous tools, and demand the immediate moratorium on the export, sale, transfer, servicing of, and use of digital surveillance tech. Collectively, we must uphold the Geneva Declaration on Targeted Surveillance and Human Rights.”
Members of the international community are calling for an end to the proliferation of surveillance technologies used to target individuals and communities engaging in protected activities, such as exercising their right to protest. They are also pressuring governments, in coordination with civil society and the private sector, to implement a moratorium on the export, sale, transfer, servicing, and use of targeted digital surveillance technologies, until rigorous human rights safeguards are put in place to regulate such practices.
Signatories to the Geneva Declaration commit to, and call on multilateral organizations, governments, and the private sector to, among others:
- Implement an immediate moratorium on the export, sale, transfer, servicing, and use of targeted digital surveillance technologies until rigorous human rights safeguards are put in place;
- Establish a legal and policy framework that makes the acquisition of surveillance tools subject to robust public oversight, consultation, and control;
- Hold companies developing and distributing these technologies accountable for their failure to respect human rights;
- Publicly report any detected misuse of cybersurveillance products and services resulting in human rights violations; and
- Ensure that digital transformation works for, not against, democracy and human rights.
“Governments’ reckless use of spyware is nothing less than abuse,” said Rand Hammoud, Surveillance Campaigner at Access Now. “And it must be addressed as such. Today, through the Geneva Declaration, the international community has laid out in black and white the concrete commitments that authorities must make to ensure human rights are at the core of any and all digital transformations.”
The Declaration officially launched today, September 29, 2022 at the UN Human Rights Council’s 51st session side event Spyware: A Threat to Human Rights and Democracy organized by Access Now and the Government of Catalonia, in Geneva, Switzerland. This event featured opening remarks from Clément N. Voule, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.
Read the Geneva Declaration.