OHCHR and privacy in the digital age

“At its best, the digital revolution will empower, connect, inform and save lives. At its worst, it will disempower, disconnect, misinform and cost lives.”

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Human rights in the digital age - Can they make a difference?
Japan Society, New York, 17 October 2019

About digital privacy and human rights

Digital technologies do not exist in a vacuum. They can be a powerful tool for advancing human progress and contribute greatly to the promotion and protection of human rights.

However, data-intensive technologies, such as artificial intelligence applications, contribute to creating a digital environment in which both States and business enterprises are increasingly able to track, analyze, predict and even manipulate people’s behavior to an unprecedented degree. These technological developments carry very significant risks for human dignity, autonomy and privacy and the exercise of human rights in general, if applied without effective safeguards.

OHCHR’s work on privacy in the digital age

Under the instructions of relevant resolutions by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, OHCHR has organized expert consultations and published reports to explore the challenges that the right to privacy and other human rights face in the digital age.

Latest reports and publications

The impact of new technologies on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of assemblies, including peaceful protests (2020): Among other aspects, this report discusses the human rights impacts of various surveillance practices and calls for a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology in the context of peaceful assemblies.
View report page | View document A/HRC/44/24

The right to privacy in the digital age (2018): This report explores how to address some of the pressing challenges that the right to privacy faces in the digital age, highlights the most significant current trends, and covers the obligations of States and business enterprises, safeguards and oversight. The report identifies key elements for data privacy frameworks that should be adopted by States and business enterprises.
View report page | View document A/HRC/39/29

Latest news


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Activities

Expert Seminar on Artificial Intelligence and the Right to Privacy
27-28 May 2020

Reflecting on the UDHR at 70: 30 Articles about 30 articles. Article 12, the right to Privacy
2018

Feature stories

The double-edged of new technology for human rights defenders
9 December 2018

Digital age: Is our privacy under threat?
19 November 2018

Mass surveillance: exceptional measure or dangerous habit?
13 November 2014

Videos

Webinar#5 on Public health, digital responses and human rights
2 Oct 2020
Watch on YouTube

Panel discussion on New Digital Technologies - 13th Meeting, 44th Regular Session Human Rights Council
8 Jul 2020
Watch on UN Web TV

Expert Seminar on Artificial Intelligence and the right to privacy
27-28 May 2020
Watch on UN Web TV

Human rights in the digital age
21 Nov 2018
Watch on YouTube

UN Expert Workshop on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age
19 Feb 2018
Watch on UN Web TV