Edward Snowden, Supporters, Unveil Anti-Spying ‘Snowden Treaty’

Proposed international treaty would set global standards against surveillance and protect whistleblowers
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    The USA Freedom Act vote "shows the power that investigative journalism and brave whistleblowing can have on even the most entrenched government interests," says Trevor Timm. (Photo: The Guardian)

    National Security Agency contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden.

    NEW YORK — Privacy activists, including National Security Agency contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald, announced the launch of a new campaign on Thursday to establish global privacy standards through an international treaty.

    The proposed International Treaty on the Right to Privacy, Protection Against Improper Surveillance and Protection of Whistleblowers — dubbed the “Snowden Treaty” by supporters — requires that signatory states prohibit mass data collection and implement public oversight of their national surveillance programs. They would also be required to offer asylum to people who say they are whistleblowers, including those from states that are not party to the treaty.

    The push for the treaty is being led by the online activist group Avaaz and civil liberties advocate David Miranda. Miranda and Avaaz campaign director Dalia Ashad announced the effort at a Thursday press conference in New York; Snowden and Greenwald appeared via teleconference from Russia and Brazil, respectively.

    “This is the beginning of work that will continue for many years,” said Snowden.

    Now that “we’ve established at least the bare facts of what’s going on in the arena of our basic liberties,” he said, “we need to think about what the actual proposals that we’re going to put forth will be.”

    Miranda said full details of the treaty were not yet ready to release, and that a handful of governments were currently reviewing a draft and due to give feedback. He also declined to provide a list of the countries the activists had consulted with, but said some of them were likely to come forward soon.

    Public pressure may inspire some other, more reticent nations to sign the treaty, he said.

    “It’s a matter not of what the country wants, but what the people of the country want,” said Miranda.

    International institutions have already taken steps to address concerns about mass surveillance. In early July the United Nations appointed its first-ever special rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, University of Malta professor Joseph Cannataci. Privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation hailed Cannataci’s appointment as “a great opportunity to develop best practices and global standards aimed to protect privacy in an era of constant pervasive surveillance.”

    But Greenwald said the Snowden Treaty has a more ambitious goal than just establishing best practices for surveillance. He highlighted the proposed treaty’s whistleblower protections as particularly significant.

    “I think the critical part of this treaty is to say that whistleblowers are entitled to protection on an international level,” said Greenwald. “They shouldn’t have to rely on some sort of ad hoc desperate attempt at the last minute to avoid being put into prison for 40 years, as Edward Snowden did.”


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    • If this is adopted and gains traction worldwide, this treaty will be a major step in establishing international democracy over institutions that are antithetical to democracy. In short, this advances democracy in an ominous time when democracy is being strategically eroded for the purposes of population control and maintaining elite domination.

      • You should explain yourself. Quite opposite to my take. Exactly what is ‘international democracy’? How does it work? Most treaties go through their own tribunals. Is a tribunal democratic. Will you vote its members? Climate treaty will go through UN/ COP. You trust the UN? With Saudi looking after Human Rights??!!! ROFLMAO. Who told you this will ‘advance democracy’? I’d guess it was a (media) elite, who are looking, not to maintain their domination, but to EXTEND it to the entire globe. Power corrupts. ABSOLUTE power….

    • Global treaties are back door to wrecking democracy. Observe effects of NAFTA, Lisbon on the 99%. Parse your constitution to see how word ‘treaty’ changes what matters. Each country can enact the above provisions – no treaty necessary.

      • Robert Munro

        NAFTA is a trade treaty of the TPP variety. FAR different from treaties meant to protect countries from one another or prevent violations of human rights.

        To claim, or even consider that, “Global treaties are back door to wrecking democracy” is ludicrous and probably dreamed up by the the predators from whom the world and its people need to be protected.

        • No, TPP is an extension of NAFTA –to new nations.
          Exactly how, Mr expert, does a trade treaty differ from a non aggression treaty, except for subject matter? The mechanism is the same, no? Electorates cannot change their mind. Underage voters cannot change anything when they do grow up. = Broken democracy.
          But, hey, I suppose, having dreamed this up, the world must be protected from me! And C51 makes it very possible, even likely. (C51 is Canada’s equivalent of NSA, except worse). But you’ll be happy no doubt.

          • Robert Munro

            TPP goes far beyond NAFTA. NAFTA was a rape of Mexico and of workers in all three countries. TPP is the same………….on steroids.