Two years after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations made global headlines, a new international pact for privacy rights is being launched—the Snowden Treaty, an agreement that would "curtail mass surveillance and protect the rights of whistleblowers."
"Protecting the right to privacy is vital not just in itself but because it is essential requirement for exercise of freedom of opinion and expression, the most fundamental pillars of democracy," the drafters—Snowden, journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, and Greenwald's partner David Miranda—explain in their proposal, which will be formally introduced at a press conference on Thursday and encourages both individual citizens and global governments to sign up.
The proposal states:
- We demand for privacy on the internet.
- We demand that the government grant us the right to privacy in our homes.
- We demand that the government protect our personal privacy online.
Launched along with the website SnowdenTreaty.org, the pact is officially titled the International Treaty on the Right to Privacy, Protection Against Improper Surveillance and Protection of Whistleblowers (pdf).
"Signatories to the treaty will be obliged to enact concrete changes to outlaw mass surveillance. The Treaty would also develop international protections for whistleblowers," the pact states.
Snowden's 2013 leak of NSA documents exposing the government's invasive spying programs, along with Poitras' and Greenwald's reporting on the scandal, propelled surveillance reform to the forefront of global consciousness.
"This breach of millions of people’s privacy is in direct contravention of international human right law. In particular, the right to privacy is enshrined in Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 17 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights," the drafters write.
"Snowden's revelations about the scope and scale of mass surveillance and espionage, and the immense costs he is personally paying for disclosing these human rights abuses, calls for concerted multilateral action to protect our rights and the rights of whistleblowers," the treaty continues.
Among the treaty's early signatories are three well-known activists—scholar and linguist Noam Chomsky, actor Jon Cusack, and director Oliver Stone, whose latest project is a biopic of Snowden.
Snowden currently lives in exile from the U.S. in Russia. His efforts have been credited by renowned whistleblowers like Daniel Ellsberg and Thomas Drake for helping change American surveillance law.
The pact is also being promoted by the Courage Foundation, which was launched in the wake of the NSA leaks to help provide legal support and protections for whistleblowers. They will tweet Thursday's press conference under the hashtag #SnowdenTreaty: