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Homeland Security

UN expert speaks out against intrusions of privacy in fight against terrorism

19 January 2010 – A United Nations independent human rights expert today countered the notion that counter-terrorism needs must always outweigh the right to privacy, calling for a new framework to ensure that infringements on privacy are necessary, proportionate and adequately regulated.

In a new report, Martin Scheinin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, assessed recent developments into the intrusions into the right to privacy with combating terrorism used as a justification.

These include racial or ethnic profiling, the setting up of privacy-invading databases and the introduction of new technologies, such as body scanners, without proper assessment of their possible ramifications on human rights.

The expert, who reports to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, issued a call for the body to start a process to set up a global mechanism to protect data privacy.

He also encouraged the Human Rights Committee – an independent body supervising compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – to look into issuing a statement on the right to privacy, including the proper scope of its limitations.

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