Legal approach to cyber privacy | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 12, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:31 AM, December 12, 2017

Legal approach to cyber privacy

The theme of 2017's World Human Rights Day is 'Let's stand up for equality, justice and human dignity.' In the spirit of this theme and to make people aware of fundamental freedom and rights, and to provide them with a platform to come forward with their opinions, suggestions, ideas, and of course criticisms, Law & Our Rights has organised a legal write-up competition. The submissions were overwhelming and among our participants were students, academics, professionals, rights activists, and even rights conscious ordinary citizens from different sectors. On today's issue we hence publish the best two write-ups.

The contemporary development of technology has changed lives in many ways. A new interconnected space called cyberspace has taken over the traditional way of living on a worldwide platform. Unlike any other platform it brought its own issues of concern. Moreover, the global character of this technology made it complicated to address specially when the human rights issues are concerned. Human rights are guaranteed in all the spheres of life and the web world, or say 'e-world', is not an exception.

The UN Human Rights Council has stated that Article 19(2) of ICCPR, where freedom of expression and information is articulated, includes the right to information and communication through internet. This is where the issue of freedom of expression and privacy is concerned. Governments often try to control the behaviour of individuals by collecting their personal information and data. It has far-reaching consequence in real life. For example, this data could be analysed and used to follow any individual without his/her consent. This is known as 'Nudging' and considered harmful to individual liberty.

Often the question arises that whether human rights should allow people to maintain anonymity. It is a right of an individual as to how he wants to present himself and not to be presented in a way that may hurt his/her interest. This concealment can be an example of dignity and self-respect and it is the enjoyment of freedom and right to privacy which is protected by human rights.

In our constitution, the same idea is reflected in Articles 32 and 39 which dealt with protection of the right to life and personal liberty and freedom of thought and conscience and of speech, accordingly.

As cyberspace is borderless a new concept of 'Universal Individual Privacy' has emerged to meet the demand of the necessity. Having new issues like this the world community tried to address this issues with some remarkable initiatives. A data protection directive has been adopted by European Union (EU) in 1995 which prohibits the state from targeting, data collection, analysation, shortlisting or discrimination without prior permission and also ensure various other benefits and rights to the subject.

Another remarkable effort should be mentioned, i.e. the Convention on Cybercrime in 2001. This Convention criminalises certain actions or omissions and attempts to bring the countries under one umbrella to solve various existing challenges of e-world. More specifically the Convention deals with cybercrime, hate crime, security, copyright issues, etc. This Convention creates a clear bond among the countries on implication level by solving various problems including jurisdiction. As a result it has been attracted by 56 signatories worldwide, though the initiative had taken by the EU.

These legal approaches become futile on the scale of global application. Though we can interpret most of the existing laws to ensure human rights issues, the reality suggests that we are still far from a total protection under the law. Not only individuals but states can also be compromised if we do not take the challenge seriously. It is time to put our efforts on the technological development in order to ensure a safe and secured e-world for all human beings.


The writer is a Student of Law, Eastern University.

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