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No. 285 State surveillance online: which principles and safeguards?

Nicolas Seidler
Internet Society



Human Rights / Freedom of Expression on the Internet

Ongoing revelations about systematic governments data collection practices and their impact on users' fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of expression have generated a global debate among all stakeholders on principles and guidelines that should govern any such activities.

This flash session will review and discuss efforts that are being made to counter invasive surveillance from human rights, technological and other perspectives. The flash session organisers will briefly introduce the topic, including by introduction of the "necessaryandproportionate.org" international principles on the application of Human Rights to communications surveillance (supported by over 275 organisations) and invite all session participants to a discussion on the avenues and responses available to advocates and others seeking to address and mitigate the impact of disproportionate surveillance. Principles that could be considered include legality, legitimate aim, necessity, adequacy, proportionality, due process and judicial oversight. They provide a framework in which governments and other stakeholders may assess how current or future laws on surveillance can comply with international human rights standards. Other principles to consider could include transparency, accountability, multistakeholder frameworks or the notion of trust.

Has the proponent organised a workshop with a similar subject during past IGF meetings?


Indication of how the workshop will build on but go beyond the outcomes previously reached

Last year's workshop looked at the strong shared values between the open Internet architecture and users' ability to share information online, looking at the opportunities offered by a decentralized network focused on edge-users. This year, the workshop will rather focus on very actual challenges to online expression and privacy through the recent events on government surveillance.

Background Paper

No background paper provided

Session Type

Open Discussion



Mr. Nicolas Seidler, Internet Society, Technical Community, SWITZERLAND, Western Europe and Others Group - WEOG

Ms. Fabiola Carrion, Access Now, Civil Society, UNITED STATES, Western Europe and Others Group - WEOG

Mr. Matthew Shears, Center for Democracy and Technology, Civil Society, UNITED KINGDOM, Western Europe and Others Group - WEOG

Ms. Xiaohong Hu, UNESCO, Intergovernmental Organizations, CHINA, Asia-Pacific Group

Have the Proponent or any of the co-organisers organised an IGF workshop before?


The link(s) to the workshop report(s)


Panellists and Moderator

Invited panellists, individuals and organisations

No invited panellist, individual and organisation provided


Brett Solomon (Executive Director, Access Now)

Remote Moderator



No information provided here

Inclusiveness of the Session

Discussants will be chosen in sight of creating a dynamic set of interaction among them, as well as with the onsite and remote audience. The session will focus on very short interventions and will favor a diversity of perspectives from different regions.

Suitability for Remote Participation

A social media plan will be set up with our Communications departments in advance of the session. We will also engage with our vast community of ISOC Chapters and members to actively participate remotely. The remote moderator will be asked to intervene as frequently as possible.

Questions or Comments

No question or comment provided

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