New UN report on encryption a triumph for free expression online

Global – Access hails the new report by UN human rights expert David Kaye that defends the use of encryption as necessary for free expression, and that affirms digital security as essential for the broader advancement of human rights.

“This landmark report shows how fundamental — and necessary — encryption is for exercising freedom of expression,” said Access Senior Policy Counsel Peter Micek. “It’s a sober rebuke of baseless fear-mongering from those who say encryption only helps criminals and terrorists.”

The report was written by David Kaye, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The document concludes with a strong recommendation that “all relevant actors should encourage the use of encryption and anonymity tools and better digital literacy.”

“This report clearly states that intentionally compromising encryption weakens everyone’s security online,” said Access Technology Director Jamie Tomasello. “It takes input from a wide variety of stakeholders across the internet ecosystem, including civil society and technologists, not just military and government, and places access to digital security technologies at the heart of the full realization of human rights.”

Access is heavily engaged in the fight for privacy for users at risk around the world. Earlier this month, we joined a large coalition[PDF] of human rights, privacy, and technology organizations, companies, and security experts working to oppose any law or policy that would force companies to deliberately weaken the security of their products. We also released an Implementation Guide [PDF] for the 13 Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, which calls on officials to respect human rights no matter the justification for the activity — whether it is law enforcement, national security, or intelligence gathering.

“Kaye’s report warns against laws, like mandatory SIM registration, that require users to identify themselves to get online,” Micek added. “In many countries, journalists, religious minorities, sexual and gender rights activists, and other persecuted groups cannot safely access digital information under their legal names. Anonymity enables that access.”


Media contacts

Deji Olukotun
Senior Global Advocacy Manager, Access
[email protected]
tel: +1 415-935-4572

Peter Micek
Global Policy and Legal Counsel, Access
[email protected]
tel: +1-888-414-0100 x709