In the sixth and final episode of the Our Space video series, Frank La Rue, Executive Director of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Europe, and former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, takes aim at digital mass surveillance practices of governments around the world.

‘I believe that digital mass surveillance is neither effective nor necessary for security in any state, and much to the contrary, I think it weakens democracy. Surveillance can be legitimate if it is done in a democratic and legal way. But mass surveillance always will violate the principle of proportionality and necessity and therefore has no justification.’

Internet access may not be a human right, but Mr. La Rue believes that access to the internet is guaranteed under existing rights: the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy.

‘Freedom of expression is the protection of an individual to seek and receive information, or to impart and disseminate information in an oral way, a written way, or through any technology or any means at their disposal. When it was drafted, even beginning with the Universal Declaration in 1948, nobody knew about the internet. But they were wise enough to foresee that new technologies were coming. And these new technologies have accelerated and widened the process of communication.’

‘What internet brought new, was the interactive means of communication. You can send a message and a million people can receive it. And they can also answer in real time, or they can exchange your message or they can forward that message or they can discuss that message. This brought a whole new dimension to communication.’

‘Defending the internet is a way to defend the mechanism in which we exercise the right to freedom of expression, I would say the most important mechanism in which we exercise freedom of expression.’

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