United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay has associated the global response to government mass surveillance with the collective uproar that eventually helped cripple South Africa’s apartheid regime.
Pillay, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights and a South Africa native, said in an interview aired on Thursday that just as international pressure helped end apartheid in her home country, so must widespread condemnation of intrusive spying help boost online privacy rights. Pillay was the first non-white woman to serve as a High Court judge in South Africa.
“Combined and collective action by everybody can end serious violations of human rights,” she said in an interview with BBC Radio 4. “That experience inspires me to go on and address the issue of internet [privacy], which right now is extremely troubling because the revelations of surveillance have implications for human rights…People are really afraid that all their personal details are being used in violation of traditional national protections.”