HRW: US should clear its stance on privacy rights

HRW: US should clear its stance on privacy rights
Fri Jan 17, 2014 16:32:59

Human Rights Watch has called on US President Barack Obama to stop his government’s spying activities and respect the privacy rights.

Ahead of Obama’s much-anticipated speech on January 17 in which he is to introduce a series of changes to US spying programs, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to the US President setting out specific reforms for him to adopt.

“The US government should make clear in words and in practice its commitment to respecting the privacy rights of all people, in the US and beyond,” read the letter which was dated January 16.

The letter urged Obama to take measures to end the collection of telephone records of American citizens, protect the privacy rights of all people around the world, protect encryption and online security, and increase the transparency of US spying programs.

Earlier this month, Amnesty International also sent an open letter to Obama and urged him to “put human rights at the center of U.S. policy” when introducing reforms to the National Security Agency’s spying programs.

Obama’s speech, which comes more than a week before his State of the Union address on January 28, is a direct result of revelations made by whistleblower Edward Snowden that altered the US government’s relationship with its own citizens and the rest of the world.

Snowden’s leaks showed, among other things, how the NSA collects phone records of all American citizens and tracks the use of US-based web servers by all people around the world.

His revelations also showed the US government eavesdropped on phone calls of at least 35 world leaders, spied on Russia’s leadership with the help of Sweden, spied on the 2010 G8 and G20 summits in Toronto as well as the 2009 G20 summit in London with the help of the host countries’ governments.

The latest revelation has shown that the NSA has been gathering almost 200 million text messages a day from around the world without a warrant, collecting data on people’s contacts, travel plans, and credit card transactions.

In an interview with The Washington Post in December, Snowden said his “mission’s already accomplished” because he “wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”


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