By Owen Bowcott

Council of Europe’s head of human rights says privacy and free speech are global issues and the UN should look at them.

The United Nations should set up a commission to look at the conflicts between privacy and freedom of expression on the internet because the issue is global, the Council of Europe’s head of human rights has urged.

Attending a debate on media freedom organised by the anti-censorship organisation Article 19, Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, said politicians needed to become more engaged in the problem.

Unesco, he thought, had dodged responsibility and its interest had proved “disappointing” since it is, technically, the relevant legal UN body. In contrast, Hammarberg praised the work of the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, the Guatemalan lawyer Frank La Rue, who earlier this month warned that fearful governments were increasingly restricting the free flow of information online.

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