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Privacy First endorses Earth Charter

Declaration of ratification of Earth Charter by Privacy First Foundation   

" Privacy is the new green "

The Privacy First Foundation hereby ratifies the Earth Charter (Earth Charter). We endorse the views and objectives of this document and support the common pursuit of a just, sustainable and peaceful world. To this end, the global preservation and promotion of the universal right to privacy is fundamental. To achieve this goal, Privacy First will be guided in part by the values and principles of the Earth Charter.

Privacy is the foundation of the democratic rule of law. Without privacy, there is no free individual development and no free democratic dynamics. Of all human rights, the right to privacy is under the most pressure these days. With the rise of modern information technology (ICT), the physical and virtual worlds are becoming increasingly integrated and societies are becoming increasingly transparent. The digital revolution offers sovereign peoples and individuals worldwide new opportunities and possibilities for democratisation and socio-economic empowerment, but also provides governments with the technical means to suppress it. Information technology should serve free people rather than the other way around. In a sustainable information society, everyone's privacy should therefore be guaranteed in the best possible way.

The same positive shift that has been made in recent decades in the environmental field needs to be made in the field of privacy protection in the coming years. After all, the toxic leaks of the past are the data leaks of today. Just as large groups of people are affected by environmentally unfriendly practices, so too are practices that are privacy unfriendly. In both areas, our environment and privacy form an inextricable whole. In human rights terms, this is already evident in the European development of a 'green interpretation' of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which has given the right to privacy an environmental dimension. Conversely, the Earth Charter values and principles are a relevant compass where the protection of our privacy is concerned. In the spirit of the Earth Charter, this translates for Privacy First into the following principles: 

1. Positive human freedom and the human dimension should be at the centre of any government and business policy.

2. Privacy is the most fundamental freedom and includes, in addition to privacy and development, the protection of personal data, confidential communications and integrity of person and body.

3. Both companies and governments have a duty of care to ensure proper privacy protection. This duty also extends beyond national borders.

4. Every person has the right to informational self-determination: the right to personal control over his or her own personal data.

5. The human body is inviolable. The right to bodily integrity is absolute in the sense that violations of it are permissible only with the consent of the individual himself.

6. ICT companies are obliged to conduct business in a socially responsible, ethical and transparent manner. In this context, they also have a chain responsibility to customers and suppliers.

7. Privacy Impact Assessments are mandatory in any situation where privacy may be affected. Measures that could lead to large-scale and irreversible privacy violations are prohibited a priori.

8. Governments and companies that violate privacy have a duty to remedy the situation and compensate any damages.

9. To defend themselves against (imminent) privacy violations by governments and companies, both individual and collective remedies are available to citizens. The government guarantees individual legal protection and the collective right of action.

10. Corporate complicity in foreign privacy violations should be prevented and punished. This can be done by establishing international sanction mechanisms.

11. Every person has the right to free access to the internet. Governments and industry facilitate this right.

12. Every person has the right to active public access to government information. This includes the right to timely, accurate and complete government information.

13. Privacy-sensitive information technology should meet the highest standards of 'privacy by design'. This can be done by using privacy enhancing technologies (PET).

14. Each generation of people is responsible for protecting the privacy of subsequent generations.  

15. A privacy-friendly future starts with youth. To this end, privacy education should be made compulsory in primary, secondary and higher education.

Privacy First Foundation
Amsterdam, 29 March 2012

The official endorsement statement of Privacy First can be found HEREpdf.