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States must bridge privacy gap in intelligence sharing

States must bridge privacy gap in intelligence sharing, says UN human rights expert

GENEVA (1 March 2019) - New measures to safeguard personal information exchanged between intelligence services and law-enforcement agencies have been proposed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, Joseph Cannataci,.in his latest report to the Human Rights Council.

“Personal data is exchanged between intelligence agencies on a regular basis but this exchange and the consequences are not necessarily subject to oversight by independent agencies located in either the sending or receiving State,” Cannataci told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“In some cases, existing legislation effectively prevents oversight or even consultation between the relevant authorities in the two States, so countries must amend their laws to enable this.

“Sharing any personal information both within a country or across borders must be subject to appropriate oversight under the principle that: ‘If it’s exchangeable, then it’s overseeable’,” Cannataci said.

He believed it was crucial to address the issue because present practice left open the question of whether data transferred from one country to another, and thus the privacy of the individuals concerned, was currently protected to the same standards in both States involved.

Cannataci also recommended that member States, when considering the use of bulk surveillance, should adopt as much as possible, the criteria and safeguards featured in two landmark judgements by the European Court of Human Rights in 2018, which involved the activities of intelligence services: Centrum for Rattvisa vs. Sweden, and Big Brother Watch and others vs. UK.

The UN expert also presented two other reports to the Council; one on Privacy and Health Data and the other on Privacy and Gender. Both are open to consultation until June 2019.


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