Press "Enter" to skip to content

UN expert warns of alarming misuse of technologies in global fight against terrorism

States and private actors are using counter-terrorism and security rhetoric to justify the accelerating deployment of new high-risk surveillance technologies without regulation and at an enormous cost to human rights, a UN expert said Tuesday.

The UN special rapporteur on protecting human rights in countering terrorism, Fionnuala Ni Aolain, warned of an alarming increase in intrusive and high-risk technologies.

The technologies include drones, biometrics, artificial intelligence, and spyware – in the global fight against terrorism, without due regard for the rule of law, governance, and human rights, she read her report to the UN Human Rights Council, which debated it.

“Exceptional justifications for the use of surveillance technologies in human rights ‘lite’ counter-terrorism often turn into mundane regular use,” said Ni Aolain.

She pointed to the impact on fundamental rights such as family life, freedom of movement, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, and the right to privacy.

“There must be a pause in the use of intrusive high-risk technologies until adequate safeguards are in place,” she said.

The UN expert expressed concern about the growing domestication of the use of drones in several countries, the widespread misuse of spyware technology against civil society actors, dissidents, and journalists, and the global adoption of biometric data collection.

“The unregulated transfer of high-risk technologies to States engaging in systematic human rights violations must end,” the special rapporteur said.

She urged authorities to effectively regulate companies involved in transferring surveillance technologies abroad.

“In the absence of regulation, the cost to human rights can only increase with no end in sight,” Ni Aolain said.

She joined the call for a global ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems.

Ni Aolain highlighted the specific obligations of UN counter-terrorism bodies to ensure that any guidance and advice provided on new technologies is entirely consistent with the UN Charter and international law norms and principles.

The expert presented a “new and innovative” approach to spyware regulation, ensuring that both governments apply minimum human rights standards and companies in developing, using, and transferring high-risk surveillance technologies.

A representative from Britain said using biometric data helps combat terrorism, but it must comply with human rights law.

The US Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Michele Taylor told the council that Washington places human rights, democracy, and human rights law at its center and that no country is above scrutiny, including the US.

She said the US had extended a visit to the special rapporteur to visit Guantanamo Bay, where people had been held as terrorists.

A representative from China said the expert’s report “smears” China’s counter-terrorism efforts.

He said that in Xinjiang, counter-terrorism efforts were carried out under the law. China noted no mention in the report that stability had returned to Xinjiang.

More from WorldMore posts in World »

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *