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Thematic reports

A/HRC/41/35: Surveillance and human rights - Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression


28 May 2019

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The report’s key recommendations are:

  • To establish an immediate moratorium on the global sale and transfer of private surveillance technology until rigorous human rights safeguards are put in place to regulate such practices and guarantee that governments and non-State actors use the tools in legitimate ways.
  • States purchasing surveillance technologies should take measures to ensure that their use is in compliance with international human rights law. This includes reinforcing national laws limiting surveillance, creating public mechanisms for approval and oversight of surveillance technologies, and ensuring that victims of abuse have domestic legal tools of redress. States licensing export of surveillance technologies should request public input and conduct consultations and should ensure transparency in licensing. States that have not yet done so should join the existing Wassenaar Arrangement, which in turn should develop a framework for the human rights review of companies to ensure their compliance with the UN Guiding Principles.
  • private companies should implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and integrate human rights due diligence throughout their supply chain and servicing, develop rigorous safeguards against abuse, report alleged human rights violations, and establish effective remedial mechanisms for victims.
  • All stakeholders should establish co-regulatory initiatives that develop rights-based standards of conduct for the private surveillance industry and implement these standards through independent audits, and learning and policy initiatives. The United Nations should create a working group or cross-mandate task force to monitor and provide recommendations on trends in, and individual cases of, human rights abuses facilitated by digital surveillance.

Supplementary material and submissions to the report

Supplementary material, including summary of consultations, accompanying the report is available as addendums to the report.

Issued By:

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Delivered To:

the HRC, 41st session