“Snowden Treaty” proposed to curtail mass surveillance and protect whistleblowers

(credit: Gage Skidmore)

A “Snowden Treaty” designed to counter mass surveillance and protect whistleblowers around the world has been proposed by Edward Snowden, and three of the people most closely associated with his leaks: the documentary film-maker Laura Poitras; David Miranda, who was detained at Heathrow airport, and is the Brazilian coordinator of the campaign to give asylum to Snowden in Brazil; and his partner, the journalist Glenn Greenwald. The “International Treaty on the Right to Privacy, Protection Against Improper Surveillance and Protection of Whistleblowers,” to give it its full title, was launched yesterday in New York by Miranda, with Snowden and Greenwald speaking via video.

The treaty’s proponents say that Snowden’s leaks, and the treatment he received as a whistleblower, have “revealed the need for greater rights protections for citizens globally.” In order to achieve that, they write: “We are campaigning for governments to sign up to the Snowden Treaty, a proposed treaty that would curtail mass surveillance and protect the rights of whistleblowers.”

According to a summary of the proposed treaty (PDF link), nations that sign up to it will be “required to make changes to legislation and practices to end mass surveillance.” Signatory states “must consider data protection and the right to privacy in all future programs and policies,” while also strengthening the oversight of state surveillance, which is often very weak. They will need to “establish independent national supervision to ensure public transparency and accountability in their surveillance-related activities. They will also commit to undertaking comprehensive reviews of existing surveillance practices every 5 years, with their results made public.”

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