Vienna/Geneva, 23 September 2013 Press release

Strengthening data protection as a universal human right – both on-line and off-line!

Panel discussion on the protection of privacy at the UN Human Rights Council

Vienna/Geneva, 23 September 2013 – "Technological progress must not be misused as a means to undermine the protection of human rights. Together with an inter-regional group of states and NGOs, Austria has held a panel discussion on the subject of protecting the right to a private sphere, in particular in the context of data protection in the digital age here today at the UN Human Rights Council," Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said. The discussion was held to mark the 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council. Attendants included UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Navi Pillay, UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Frank La Rue, as well as representatives of Human Rights Watch and Privacy International.

"This panel discussion has reaffirmed our conviction that an all-encompassing international debate with the involvement of the civil society, companies and representatives of governments is now due. Human rights must apply both on-line and off-line", the Vice-Chancellor said. "The UN Human Rights Council is the appropriate forum for a discussion on the protection of human rights on the Internet, including the right to privacy", Spindelegger continued.

The current situation in human rights education, in particular in respect to women, was discussed during an additional panel discussion at the UN Human Rights Council, an event jointly organised by Austria and Slovenia together with other states. At the event, Austrian university professor Benedek presented a brochure on good practices in human rights education compiled by the European Training Centre for Democracy and Human Rights of Graz University. Many countries use this booklet as a reference for their human rights education efforts. "Knowing one's own rights is the first step towards observing human rights, and this is why Austria will continue to give its full support to human rights education", Spindelegger concluded.

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