UPDATE 1-U.N. committee calls for end to excessive electronic spying

Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:09pm EST
 
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* Language weakened to appease Five Eyes spying group

* U.S. says respects privacy rights online and offline

* North Korea: Broad spying "an insult, very unbearable" (Adds diplomat quotes, details, paragraphs 3, 6-7, 9-17)

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 26 (Reuters) - A U.N. General Assembly committee on Tuesday called for an end to excessive electronic surveillance and expressed concern at the harm such scrutiny, including spying in foreign states and the mass collection of personal data, may have on human rights.

The U.N. General Assembly's Third Committee, which deals with human rights issues, adopted the German and Brazilian-drafted resolution by consensus. It is expected to be put to a vote in the 193-member General Assembly next month.

"For the first time in the framework of the United Nations this resolution unequivocally states that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online," German U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig told the committee.

The United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand - known as the Five Eyes surveillance alliance - supported the draft resolution after language that had initially suggested foreign spying could be a human rights violation was weakened to appease them.

The draft text does not name specific countries but comes after former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden released details this year of a global spying program by the NSA, sparking international outrage.   Continued...