National security should not be used by governments to justify mass surveillance
10 Jun 2013

Following the Foreign Secretary’s speech to the House of Commons on the GCHQ links to the Prism scandal, we the undersigned condemn the collection and surveillance of British citizens’ online communications and activities through the US Prism programme. We equally condemn the worldwide reach of this monitoring.

National security should not be used by governments to justify mass surveillance, either domestically or abroad. Such programmes directly undermine the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression, chilling free speech and giving rise to self-censorship. This is not about the targeted surveillance of criminals or security risks but surveillance of private citizens on a massive scale – through the US government security services, which British citizens cannot hold democratically to account.

William Hague’s claims on Sunday that innocent citizens have ‘nothing to fear’ are the sort of justification of population-wide monitoring that we might expect from China, not the UK. Mass surveillance chills freedom of expression and undermines our fundamental rights to freedom of expression and privacy.

We call upon William Hague and David Cameron to protect the privacy and free speech rights of British citizens and to help end the mass online surveillance of individuals around the world. We also call on EU Presidents Barroso and van Rompuy to stand against mass surveillance and to uphold the EU’s Cybersecurity Strategy, which states “increased global connectivity should not be accompanied by censorship or mass surveillance”.

Index on Censorship
English PEN
Privacy International
Open Rights Group
Article 19

For more information, please contact Pam Cowburn: [email protected], 07749785932

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  1. […] on Censorship has released a joint statement with English PEN, Privacy International and Open Rights Group condemning the use of national […]