Addressing Mass State Surveillance Through Transparency and Network Sovereignty, within a Framework of International Human Rights Law - a Canadian Perspective
Clement, A. (2017). Addressing mass state surveillance through transparency and network sovereignty, within a framework of international human rights law – a Canadian perspective. Published in both English and Chinese in the Chinese Journal of Journalism and Communication Studies
27 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2020
Date Written: 2017
Mass state surveillance of communications traffic on a global scale poses a significant challenge to internet governance efforts that seek to maintain consistency with well established human rights law. This paper identifies key features of the internet surveillance conducted by the Five Eyes security alliance and the threats these pose to privacy and other rights founded in multi-lateral legal agreements. Responding to these threats, a world-wide coalition of pro-privacy civil society organizations have developed a set of 13 Necessary and Proportionate Principles for evaluating surveillance legislation and practices. I highlight Principle #9 – Transparency, and show how through the development of an internet mapping platform, IXmaps.ca, it can be applied to making more visible the geographic specificities of internet routing, particularly where data travels and may be exposed to interception by surveillance facilities installed at major internet exchanges. As an internet policy transparency tool, IXmaps helps make visible the widespread phenomenon of ‘boomerang’ routing, in which communication that both originates and terminates in one country transits another. In the Canadian context, this means data traveling via the U.S. being exposed to NSA surveillance, while losing Canadian legal and constitutional protections. Furthermore, this tool reveals that most internet communications between Canada and a third country is routed through the U.S., facing similar interception risks. Both routing patterns pose a threat to privacy as well as ‘network sovereignty,’ treated as the ability of a nation to maintain effective control over vital aspects of its internet infrastructure and operations. When consistent with both international human rights law and the integrity of the internet as a unified open global communication medium, transparency and network sovereignty provide important principles of internet governance.
Keywords: state surveillance, internet governance, transparency, network sovereignty
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