Privacy activists launched a so-called “Snowden Treaty” on Thursday in the latest bid to combat the West’s mass snooping, and also protect whistleblowers.
Named after Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who alerted the world to the prodigious activities of American and British spies, the document has been drawn up by the team of journalists and activists who reported Snowden’s findings.
The gist of the proposal is that it will serve as the privacy equivalent of the Geneva Convention, a series of treaties and protocols that sets a humanitarian benchmark for how war is conducted.
“Signatories to the [Snowden] Treaty will be obliged to enact concrete changes to outlaw mass surveillance,” a press release explained. “The treaty would also develop international protections for whistleblowers.”
The treaty recommends that governments establish independent authorities on privacy to increase oversight, conduct reviews of snooping practices every five years, and ensure that whistleblowers are not sanctioned for releasing info “with the reasonable intent of exposing wrongdoing.”
It also advocates that protections for whistleblowers apply even in countries that do not sign up to the scheme, in effect guaranteeing a right to claim asylum for those being persecuted for whistleblowing in a given country.
Supporters of the Snowden Treaty, listed on the official website, include journalist Glenn Greenwald who first reported the leaks, his colleague and documentary maker Laura Poitras, and Jacob Appelbaum, a key member of the virtual private network Tor.
Also backing the document are the Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, currently fighting extradition to the US over copyright infringement allegations, and the academic Noam Chomsky.
A video of the launch event can be viewed below:
Image Credit – Edward Snowden mural, July 2013 by Thierry Ehrmann