Remarks at a Third Committee Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Privacy, Dr. Ana Brian Nougrères

Eric Merron
U.S. Adviser for the Third Committee
New York, New York
October 13, 2023


Thank you, Madam Special Rapporteur. The United States recognizes the vital role an independent media plays in a free and democratic society.

Yet, journalists and human rights defenders have increasingly experienced acts of intimidation, arbitrary and unlawful surveillance, and other attempts to silence their factual reporting. In a recent case, civil society organizations detected commercial spyware on a prominent independent Russian journalist’s phone.

When used by governments that do not respect the rule of law or that have inadequate safeguards to protect privacy, this targeting undermines the right to be free from arbitrary and unlawful interference with one’s privacy.

The United States has placed restrictions on our government’s procurement and use of commercial spyware that poses risks to national security or risks being misused to abuse human rights. We urge other governments to take similar action to prevent the proliferation and misuse of these tools.

Our question for the Special Rapporteur is, how can governments work together to support media freedom and protect journalists around the world from arbitrary and unlawful surveillance, including through the misuse of cyber tools such as commercial spyware?

I thank you.