New Editors’ Picks Reading List: IHRL on Privacy and Surveillance

As regular readers will likely recall, in recent weeks there has been much discussion here on the pages of Just Security (and elsewhere) on important questions regarding the extraterritorial application of human rights treaties, notably the ICCPR, and more specifically, whether international human rights law (IHRL) imposes an extraterritorial obligation to respect the privacy rights of foreign populations.  As the discussions illuminate, the scope of these international legal obligations may have direct (or indirect) implications on U.S. foreign surveillance programs operating pursuant to Section 702 of FAA or E.O. 12333. [For earlier coverage on Just Security, see here, here, and here. And don’t miss thoughtful posts from Ashley Deeks, Ben Wittes, and John Bellinger on Lawfare.]

The PCLOB also recently grappled with these questions during the third and final panel of a recent hearing discussing foreign surveillance programs authorized under Section 702 that was held on March 19th. Unfortunately, the link to a video of the panel which was once available is no longer working [note: to the PCLOB and CSPAN], but a complete transcript of last month’s hearing can be found here.

The discussions on the reach and scope of international human rights obligations with respect to privacy rights is timely, given that Congress, the the administration, and oversight bodies like the PCLOB are currently engaged in a holistic evaluation the nation’s surveillance authorities.  However, resources that encompass the universe of academic literature and legal commentary in this area is unfortunately sparse.  This is why we are thrilled to announce the publication of a new Just Security “Editors’ Picks” reading list on “International Human Rights Laws and Privacy (and Surveillance).”  For this “Editors’ Picks,” we have provided an annotated list of essential reads on the IHRL on privacy and its implications for foreign intelligence surveillance programs.  We hope that this list will serve as a foundational primer for those wanting to understand this aspect of IHRL.

For readers unfamiliar with this feature of Just Security, our “Editors’ Picks” are reading lists covering many important topics within U.S. national security law. Our goal with this feature is to provide you with annotated lists of “good reads”–whether they are books, law review articles, reports, or court cases–within a particular area of study in national security law and policy.  The works are selected by Just Security‘s Editors-in-Chief and Managing Editor, with annotations written by law students with assistance and review from Just Security‘s senior editorial team.  Previous Editors’ Picks have included, among other things, the power to detain, executive power, and autonomous weapons systems.  For all our previous reading lists, be sure to visit the Editors’ Picks section of the website, which can always be easily accessed through the permanent link at the bottom of the homepage.  Also, be sure to check back next week when we plan to publish a new “Editors’ Picks” reading list on Bitcoin and other crytocurrencies. 

About the Author(s)

Thomas Earnest

Former Managing Editor of Just Security (2013-14) Follow him on Twitter (@thomasdearnest).