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Germany, Brazil propose UN resolution condemning 'excessive electronic surveillance'

Germany and Brazil on Friday proposed [Reuters report] a draft resolution within the UN General Assembly [official website] calling for member states to take measures to put an end to "gross invasions of privacy" such as excessive electronic surveillance and data collection. Although the resolution does not specifically indicate any countries, recent events such as allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] has spied on more than 60 million phone calls made in Spain [JURIST report] indicate that the resolution is directed at the US and its various surveillance programs. The draft resolution will be voted on later this month [BBC report] in committee, and then will proceed to a vote before the General Assembly. While General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, resolutions with broad international support gain increased moral and political gravity.

The revelations surrounding NSA surveillance programs such as PRISM [JURIST backgrounder] have sparked worldwide debate and controversy. According to a report released [JURIST report] last week, the NSA was directly involved in a targeted killing program. Another report that same week showed [JURIST report] the NSA was collecting instant messages and e-mail contact lists. US Senators announced new legislation [JURIST report] last month in a bipartisan effort to reform surveillance laws. Earlier that month the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] urged the Obama administration [JURIST report] to curb the FBI's surveillance powers despite the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court's [official website] release of a previously classified opinion justifying [JURIST report] the need for the NSA's surveillance program. In August the Council of Europe [official website] expressed concern [JURIST report] over the UK reaction to the exposure of the US surveillance program.

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