A UN human rights watchdog has warned that too many governments are allowing ‘mass surveillance programmes’ which allow them access to personal data transmitted over the internet, mobile phone and other technology.
In a report, the UN body said more needed to be done to ensure that surveillance was balanced against its harm to personal privacy.
It added that mass retention of data to aid surveillance was “neither necessary nor proportionate”.
The report was written by the office of Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who said it revealed a “disturbing” lack of transparency about the reasons why governments approve or start large-scale monitoring of what people do online.
Ms Pillay said governments needed to do more to justify their need to ‘snoop’ on its citizens and prove it was not “arbitrary or unlawful”.
The report said laws that set out how surveillance could be carried out must be made available to the public and must demonstrate specific reasons why such monitoring was taking place.
It said measures to force internet companies, telecommunications operators and others to retain data on what people did online and whom they talked to had little justification.