7 March 2017, Geneva: Today, at a side event to the 34thsession of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), ARTICLE 19 launches The Global Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy, a ground-breaking document which provides a comprehensive, updated framework on the mutually reinforcing nature of these two rights in the digital world.
The Principles – developed in cooperation with high-level experts from around the world – aim to guide policy makers, legislators, the judiciary and civil society on how to ensure that the rights to freedom of expression and privacy are protected and where the balance should lie when they are in conflict, both online and offline.
“Digital technologies have facilitated huge advances for expression and access to information, while also exponentially increasing the creation of private data. Personal information can be collected and made available across borders on an unprecedented scale, and at minimal cost. Meanwhile, the application of data protection law and other measures to protect the right to privacy can have a disproportionate impact on the exercise of freedom of expression,” said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.
“Digital tools can present serious challenges to the enforcement of the right to privacy, and related rights. The Global Principles on freedom of expression and privacy were developed to address these issues and explore the intersection between these two rights,” added Hughes.
The Principles are part of ARTICLE 19’s International Standards Series, an ongoing effort to elaborate in greater detail the importance and complexities of protecting and promoting the right to freedom of expression in different thematic areas.
The consultation and drafting process
The Principles are based on international law and best practices from around the world, as reflected in national laws and the judgments of national courts. Traditionally, the relevant norms and principles for the protection of freedom of expression and privacy have arisen in different contexts: as a result, they have been scattered around different areas of law.
An original draft of the Principles was prepared in coordination with the Steering Committee, consisting of ARTICLE 19, CIS India, Derechos Digitales, Electronic Frontier Foundation, EPIC, KICTANet Kenya, OpenNet Korea, and Tactical Tech, and further elaborated in series of consultations, organised by ARTICLE 19, with high-level experts from Africa, Latin America, North America, Europe and Asia. These included activists, legal practitioners, academics and other experts in international human rights law, freedom of expression, privacy and data protection law. The consultations included expert meetings and a global public consultation launched online in 2016. The final version of the Principles was produced on the basis of these consultations.