Prevent Watch

UN: Counter terrorism used as cover for adoption of high-risk and intrusive technologies

Risks posed by new technological advancements, particularly those developed with counter terrorism policy, is the central theme of a report by Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

Her report, presented last month to the The Human Rights Council of the United Nations, addressed the way in which new technologies initially deployed by reference to exceptional circumstances are under-regulated as a consequence, and have rapidly moved from marginal applications to general ones.

Ms. Ní Aoláin said that by exposing the challenges of counter-terrorism exceptionalities in legal and political systems, her report illuminated the ways in which counter-terrorism and security were frequently used to provide political and legal justifications, or cover for the adoption of high-risk and highly intrusive technologies.

Counter-terrorism had been the foil, muse and cover for making the case for high-risk technologies, and the cost to the world’s greater collective freedom had been immense.

Counter-terrorism data collection must come with national legislation that protected the rights of those, essentially all, whose data was being collected, used, transferred and stored. Data protection legislation should be seen as a fundamental right in the digital age.

Read more: Counter-terrorism and Security Are Frequently Used To Cover for the Adoption of High-risk and Highly Intrusive Technologies, Special Rapporteur Tells the Human Rights Council | OHCHR

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