Privacy First endorses the Earth Charter

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Declaration of endorsement of the Earth Charter by the Privacy First Foundation 

« Privacy is the new green »

The Privacy First Foundation hereby endorses the Earth Charter. We subscribe to the ideas and goals of this document and we support the common pursuit of a righteous, sustainable and peaceful world. To that end, the worldwide preservation and promotion of the universal right to privacy is of primary importance. In order to achieve this goal, Privacy First shall be guided by the values and principles of the Earth Charter.

Privacy is the basis of our democracy under the rule of law. Without privacy, there can be no free personal development and no free democratic dynamics. Of all human rights, the right to privacy today finds itself under the most pressure. Through the rise of modern information and communications technology (ICT) the physical and virtual world become ever more integrated and societies become increasingly transparent. The digital revolution offers sovereign peoples as well as individuals from all over the globe new chances and opportunities in terms of democratisation and socio-economic empowerment. However, it also provides governments with the technical resources to suppress these processes. Information technology ought to serve the free individual, not the other way around. Therefore, in a sustainable information society the privacy of every single individual is to be optimally safeguarded.

The same positive change in recent decades with regard to the environment has to be made in the coming years in the field of privacy. Indeed, the toxic leakages of the past have become the data leakages of today. As large groups of people are stricken by environmentally unfriendly practices, the same goes for practices which are privacy-unfriendly. In both these fields our habitat and the private sphere are inextricably linked as parts of a whole. In terms of human rights this is already evinced by the European development of a 'green interpretation' of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, through which the right to privacy has received an environmental dimension. Conversely, the values and principles of the Earth Charter are a relevant guideline with regard to the protection of our privacy. In the spirit of the Earth Charter, this translates into the following principles for Privacy First:

1. In every public and industrial policy, positive human freedom and the human dimension are to fulfil a central role.

2. Privacy is the most fundamental freedom and apart from private life and personal development, this comprises the protection of personal data, confidential communication and the integrity of the person and body.

3. Both companies and government authorities have a duty of care for appropriate privacy protection. This duty also extends across national borders.

4. Everyone has the right to informational self-determination: the right to personal control over one's own personal data.

5. The human body is inviolable. The right to physical integrity is absolute in the sense that any infringements thereupon are only permissible with the consent of the individual.

6. ICT companies are required to act in a socially responsible, ethical and transparent manner. In this respect they also have a chain responsibility over the customers and suppliers within their line of business.

7. Privacy Impact Assessments are required in every situation in which one's privacy could be interfered with. Measures which can lead to large-scale and irreversible privacy violations are prohibited a priori.

8. Government authorities and companies which violate people's privacy have a duty to repair the situation and to compensate for any damage.

9. In order to defend themselves against any (impending) privacy violations by government authorities or companies, citizens shall have at their disposal both individual as well as collective legal remedies. The government safeguards individual legal protection and a collective right of action.

10. Any complicity by companies in foreign privacy violations shall be prevented and punished. This can be realised through the installation of international sanctioning mechanisms.

11. Everyone has the right to free internet access. Governments and companies facilitate this right.

12. Everyone has the right to active administrative transparency. This comprises the right to timely, correct and integral government information.

13. Privacy-sensitive information technology needs to live up to the highest standards of 'privacy by design'. This can be achieved through the use of privacy enhancing technologies (PET).

14. Every generation of people is responsible for the privacy protection of future generations.

15. A privacy friendly future starts with our youth. Therefore privacy education is to become compulsory in primary, secondary and higher education.

Privacy First Foundation,
Amsterdam, March 29, 2012

The official declaration of endorsement by Privacy First can be downloaded HEREpdf.

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