UN expert terms Pak’s ‘vague criminal encryption prohibitions risk to privacy’


A United Nations expert has termed Pakistan’s “vague criminal prohibitions” on encryption as a source of increasing risks to privacy in addition to a lack of digital security and increasing state surveillance.

A report pertaining to the matter and prepared for the 39th UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session said several governments including those of Pakistan, Russia, China, Iran and Turkey have faltered in their duty to protect human rights in the online space.

The report reads, “A state’s obligations to respect and ensure the rights to freedom of opinion and expression and to privacy include the responsibility to protect encryption.”

Moreover, the report also claims that many states engage in secret mass surveillance and communication interception.

The report noted that these acts were “not permissible under international human rights law, as an individualised necessity and proportionality analysis would not be possible in the context of such measures”.

Quoting the European Court of Human Rights, the report stated: “A system of secret surveillance set up to protect national security may undermine or even destroy democracy under the cloak of defending it.”


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