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Diluted by US and Allies, Anti-Spying Bill Advances in UN

Lobbying by United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand diluted anti-spying provision

German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, US senator Chris Murphy, left, and congressman Gregory Meeks, right, before a meeting in Berlin on the NSA. (Photo: Imago/Barcroft Media)

The human rights committee of the United Nations General Assembly advanced a resolution on Tuesday initially aimed at reigning in unlawful spying.

Yet the language that passed was significantly weakened at the behest of the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand—the so-called "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance.

Drafted by the Brazil and Germany, the provision is a non-binding, symbolic affirmation of privacy rights following high-profile scandals that have rippled through the international community, including U.S. spying on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Associated Press explains.

The Guardian reports:

The main sticking point was over language stating that foreign nationals should have the same rights to privacy as the citizens of countries carrying out mass surveillance. US law currently gives citizens far greater protection than foreigners from NSA operations.

The Five-Eyes members argued that the legal right to privacy was an internal matter for states alone.

At the same time, countries including Cuba and Venezuela had pushed for more explicit language on alleged extraterritorial human rights violations during the negotiations.

After its successful bid to weaken the resolution, the United States consented to its passage through the human rights committee.

It is next headed to the 193-member General Assembly, which will put it to a vote next month.

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