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UN rights experts warn UK bill could threaten freedom of expression

[JURIST] UN human rights experts called [press release] Monday for a review of the UK's draft Investigatory Powers bill [text, PDF]. They fear that the present draft of the bill could threaten freedom of expression and association. The bill is intended to govern how UK authorities monitor suspects under surveillance. In a report [text, PDF] to the Joint Committee on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, the group cited broad definitions and disproportionate procedures to authorize surveillance as causes for concern. The experts claim [UN News Centre report] "the lack of transparency could prevent individuals from ever knowing they are subject to such surveillance" which will "stifle fundamental freedoms."

Surveillance and data collection have been a worldwide topic of discussion, particularly after Edward Snowden leaked top-secret [JURIST report] US National Security Agency (NSA) documents in 2013. In December China passed a new anti-terrorism law [JURIST report] that requires technology companies to provide information to the government obtained from their products and make information systems "secure and controllable." In October the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied [JURIST report] a motion by the American Civil Liberties Union to halt the bulk collection of phone records by the NSA. The court ruled that Congress intended for the agency to continue its data collection over the transition period, and the new legislation was to take effect November 29. In June the French Parliament adopted [JURIST report] a new surveillance bill that would give French intelligence serves the authority to monitor Internet use metadata. In February the UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) ruled [JURIST report] that the UK's mass surveillance of citizens' Internet use violates human rights law. In July 2014 civil liberties groups sued [JURIST report] the UK's Secret Intelligence Service known as MI6, alleging that the agency accesses data from undersea cables in violation of the rights to private life and freedom of expression.

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