Jan 18 2013

US cites ICCPR in its lobbying against reform of EU privacy law

The US government has been lobbying hard in Brussels and Strasbourg against proposals to strengthen European Union (EU) rules protecting personal information, including information “shared” with the US and other governments for law enforcement, surveillance, profiling, and other purposes.

The European Digital Rights initiative (EDRi), to which we are an accredited observer, has posted a leaked lobbying document being distributed to EU decision-makers by the US mission to the EU.

As discussed in EDRi’s excellent analysis, the US position paper explicitly references the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as part of the common foundation of US and EU privacy principles. That curious, since (1) the US has previously avoided or ignored all attempts (such as those by the European Parliament in its 2010 resolution on airline Passenger Name Records) to include the ICCPR in the terms of reference for US-EU negotiations, and (2) the US is in flagrant violation of the provisions of the ICCPR related to, among other issues, privacy rights and freedom of movement.

It’s especially odd for the US to bring the ICCPR into the EU debate just now, as the UN Human Rights Committee is beginning its periodic, treaty-mandated review of US compliance with the ICCPR.

We hope the EU will take up the US invitation to bring the ICCPR into the debate, and will conduct its own inquiry into US compliance with its treaty obligations as well as paying close attention to the UNHRC review.