One of the topics of the 3rd Committee of the GA analyses the complicated issue of national espionage from a self-defense strategy to a raw violation of the right to privacy guaranteed to individuals. Espionage represents a continuous effort to ensure mutual respect of the various treaties or legal arrangements between countries, to protect against third party external threats, and to counter and achieve the upper hand against other espionage agencies in time of war. Economic espionage is sub-species of this, developed to proactively compete in the capitalist sector, because as we all know, information is power.
It is reasonable to understand why espionage can interfere with the right to privacy because of its stealthy nature; Big Brother and Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon are good examples for this case. A constant fear that someone is listening to your phone calls read your e-mail and knows where you are and what you are doing might derive with the feeling that individuals have little knowledge of what rights they are entitled to and that some part of their lives revolve in in the gray area between legality and illegality.
In my opinion, a fine line between the current form of the violation of privacy and espionage cannot be obtained. I like to imagine that espionage as a whole resembles to an undercover martial law, where the subjects of it are not aware of it. Another point would be that if your own state does not do it, the other states will do it for you because you lack the institutional body to counter it.
The advancement of technology has broadened the range of instruments for surveillance and intelligence gathering and in turn opened new backdoors to weaknesses that didn’t previously exist. Adaptation demands a cost, and unfortunately this partial, situational deprivation is a must to protect the same subject from external threats.
Cristian Petrică Cojocaru – Human Rights Council Press Officer