U.S. setting dangerous example on surveillance – Human Rights Watch

The Human Rights Watch says the U.S. programme could lead to more censorship of critical speech on the internet.

The U.S. is setting a dangerous example with its sweeping surveillance programmes, paving the way for mass censorship of online communications by authoritarian governments, Human Rights Watch has said.

“The U.S. now leads in ability for global data capture, but other nations and actors are likely to catch up, and some already insist that more data be kept within their reach,’’ says the rights group in its annual report.

The report includes an assessment of human rights records in over 90 countries and was presented on Tuesday in Berlin.

According to Human Rights Watch, the U.S. programme could lead to more censorship of critical speech on the internet.

“In the end, there will be no safe haven if privacy is seen as a strictly domestic issue, subject to many carve-outs and lax or non-existent oversight,’’ the report says.

The rights group has criticised recent efforts by U.S. President Barack Obama to reform the monitoring activities of the National Security Agency (NSA), arguing that the agency will be able to continue violating individuals’ right to privacy.

“The proposals do very little to limit collection, leaving the door open to continued indiscriminate surveillance of people abroad,’’ HRW said in response to a speech delivered by Obama last week on NSA reforms.

In its report, the organisation proposes several measures that the U.S. government should take to successfully rein in mass surveillance.

These include requiring judicial warrant protection for metadata, recognising that privacy is breached when data is collected (not just viewed or used), revamping the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to better control the NSA, and placing whistleblowers under national security practices.


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