• On June 5, 2013, media outlets published the first revelations of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, a watershed moment for the right to privacy in the Internet age. The disclosures of the last year have drawn a devastating portrait of unchecked government surveillance. To mark the first anniversary of the revelations, Human Rights Watch releases perspectives from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, India, and Brazil on how the Snowden documents have shaped the debate on surveillance and human rights. This page will update throughout the day.

  • Photos of Snowden, former NSA employee, and president Barack Obama, on the front pages of English- and Chinese-language papers printed in Hong Kong.
    Is the Obama administration blind to the real and tangible harm the NSA surveillance program is doing to America’s credibility?

  • Despite the global outrage, not enough has been done to protect the privacy of the millions of people worldwide swept into NSA and British GCHQ databases. Reforms proposed in the US to date do little to rein in the sheer scale of information the NSA acquires globally, nor provide protections for national security whistleblowers. The debate in the UK is even less developed, with the government unwilling to answer even the most basic questions about its practices. Germany and Brazil have stepped into the leadership vacuum and placed the right to privacy squarely on the human rights agenda, at the United Nations and at home. In contrast, India has sought to build its own system of mass surveillance, with inadequate protections for digital privacy.

Edward Snowden

  • May 19, 2015
    As the Senate considers the USA Freedom Act this week, policymakers should strengthen it by limiting large-scale collection of records and reinforcing transparency and carrying court reforms further. The Senate should also take care not to weaken the bill, and should reject any amendments that would require companies to retain personal data for longer than is necessary for business purposes.
  • Apr 30, 2015
    The United States Congress should swiftly pass the USA Freedom Act to thwart bulk data collection and improve transparency and oversight of surveillance in the US. The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill on April 30, 2015.
  • Apr 23, 2015
    The United States Senate should definitively end bulk data collection and reject a new bill that would endorse and extend the National Security Agency’s mass violation of privacy rights in the US.
  • Apr 17, 2015
    The systems of surveillance that Edward Snowden revealed in both the UK and US depend on law for their justification, and are facing legal challenges in both countries’ legislatures.
  • Mar 25, 2015
    We the undersigned represent a wide range of privacy and human rights advocates, technology companies, and trade associations that hold an equally wide range of positions on the issue of surveillance reform. Many of us have differing views on exactly what reforms must be included in any bill reauthorizing USA PATRIOT Act Section 215, which currently serves as the legal basis for the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata and is set to expire on June 1, 2015. That said, our broad, diverse, and bipartisan coalition believes that the status quo is untenable and that it is urgent that Congress move forward with reform.
  • Mar 13, 2015
  • Mar 10, 2015
  • Oct 3, 2014
    Human Rights Watch respectfully submits the following information to David Anderson QC for the Investigatory Powers Review. Firstly, we explain the need to reform UK legislation governing surveillance to bring it in line with the UK’s human rights obligations, in particular its obligations to respect and protect the right to privacy.
  • Jul 28, 2014
    Large-scale US surveillance is seriously hampering US-based journalists and lawyers in their work, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union said in a joint report released today. Surveillance is undermining media freedom and the right to counsel, and ultimately obstructing the American people’s ability to hold their government to account, the groups said.
  • Jul 9, 2014
    The US government should thoroughly explain why it placed five American Muslim leaders, including the head of a prominent Muslim civil liberties group, under electronic surveillance.