Ministerial conference calls for effective safeguards against electronic mass surveillance
Belgrade, 08.11.2013 – Ministers responsible for Media and Information Society from the 47 Council of Europe member states have called today for adequate and effective guarantees against abuse concerning the growing technological capabilities for electronic mass surveillance. This abuse “may undermine or even destroy democracy”, they said.
In a political declaration adopted at the conference “Freedom of Expression and Democracy in the Digital Age: Opportunities, rights, responsibilities”, which has been held in Belgrade this week, the ministers recall that any data collection or surveillance for the protection of national security must be done in compliance with human rights requirements, including the European Convention on Human Rights. They also adopted three resolutions mapping out the future work of the Council of Europe in the field of freedom of expression.
The ministers note that freedom of expression and media freedom are threatened today in various parts of Europe, and call on states for political commitment and greater efforts to protect them. With regard to the growth of hate speech in Europe, they underline the need for action both at national and international level.
The ministers strongly condemn physical attacks, intimidation and misuse of power of the State, including unlawful monitoring of communications and other forms of harassment of journalists and other media actors. Failure by authorities to investigate effectively and prosecute the perpetrators fuels a climate of impunity that favours further attacks, they say. (more