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Somewhat ironically, the United States Tuesday backed an anti-spying U.N. resolution that was pushed by two countries miffed at the NSA.
After the U.S. reportedly eavesdropped on their elected leaders, Dilma Rousseff and Angela Merkel, Germany and Brazil pushed a U.N. resolution affirming "the right to privacy in the digital age." The resolution states that technological advancements have made it possible for government and corporate spying that "may violate human rights" under international human- and civil-rights declarations "and is therefore an issue of increasing concern."
Surveillance "may threaten the foundations of a democratic society," the resolution reads, referring to the "illegal collection of personal data" and calls on nations to "ensure that measures taken to counter terrorism comply with international law." It also calls for the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights to submit a report on protection of privacy rights in the context of digital and mass surveillance.
The U.S. is on board, despite having reportedly recorded phone conversations of world leaders, including Rousseff and Merkel.
The U.N.'s social, humanitarian, and cultural committee passed the resolution Tuesday unanimously without a vote, and the U.S. supported it.
The U.S. Mission to the United Nations released a statement of support, which read, in part:
"The United States has long championed these rights domestically and internationally, and as we have said before, we firmly believe that privacy rights and the right to freedom of expression must be respected both online and offline, as demonstrated by our cosponsorship of a resolution on this topic at the Human Rights Council.
In some cases, conduct that violates privacy rights may also seriously impede or even prevent the exercise of freedom of expression, but conduct that violates privacy rights does not violate the right to freedom of expression in every case. The United States remains firmly committed to working with all States to promote freedom of expression and privacy online. And we applaud this resolution's recognition that full respect for the right to freedom of expression requires respect for the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information."
The resolution is likely to pass the full General Assembly, according to a spokeswoman for U.N. General Assembly President John William Ashe.