Top choice blocked for UN digital privacy investigator post
By Tom Miles
GENEVA, July 3 (Reuters) - The Estonian picked as the U.N.'s first digital privacy investigator was blocked on Friday by the German president of the Human Rights Council after activist groups said she would not be a strong enough critic of U.S. surveillance.
Katrin Nyman-Metcalf was the candidate ranked first by a "consultative group" of five ambassadors - from Poland, Chile, Greece, Algeria and chaired by Saudi Arabia. But when it came to approving her appointment, Joachim Ruecker said he was over-ruling their choice and proposing the second-ranked candidate instead, Malta's Joseph Cannataci.
"Concerns were raised as to whether she was the best qualified candidate for this position," Ruecker announced, saying he was reflecting the views of Council members, many observer states and civil society stakeholders.
As the first person in the job, the investigator will be able to set the standard for the digital right to privacy, deciding how far to push governments that want to conduct surveillance for security reasons.
Nyman-Metcalf said Estonia was sometimes seen as pro-American, and Ruecker had told her that civil society groups felt she was not "activist" enough.
"It seemed in this criticism that he had received about me, these people who had criticised me wanted somebody to wave a flag for (former U.S. security contractor Edward) Snowden," she said.
Nyman-Metcalf said she also found it bizarre that she had been criticised for saying there was no such thing as total privacy.
"We all see these surveillance scandals and of course that's upsetting, but at the same time there's more and more pressure to do something against terrorism. There are lots of things that are pushing in different directions." Continuación...