A United Nations (UN) committee has passed a resolution on the right to privacy, and will now ask the General Assembly, and its member nations, to enshrine citizens' right to privacy.
The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee briefly debated a need for more privacy before passing its suggestions for a resolution.
The UN is reacting to revelations about government snooping and surveillance, and follows a UK parliament request for addition powers in this area.
"The Committee would have the General Assembly call upon all states to respect and protect the right to privacy, including in the context of digital communication," said the UN in a document outlining its resolutions.
"States would also be called upon to take measures to put an end to violations of those rights. There was no doubt that states had human rights obligations while conducting surveillance activities outside their borders."
The recommendations of the committee will now go forward to the UN General Assembly.
Rights group Privacy International is hoping for a positive outcome. "This resolution comes just hours after the release of a report by [the ISC] which suggested that internet companies should snoop through user data for the authorities," the group said.
"The resolution adopted today pushes back against this idea, stating that states must respect the right to privacy when they require disclosure of personal data from companies, as well as when they intercept digital communications of individuals or collect personal data."
Various parties have called on governments to be more open about surveillance regimes. Privacy International said that the UN intervention could finally provide this openness.
"Concretely, the resolution calls on states to review their procedures, practices and legislation regarding surveillance to ensure that they are in line with their obligations under human rights law," the group added.
"[They must also] establish independent and effective oversight mechanisms over state surveillance practices, and provide effective remedy to those individuals whose right to privacy has been violated by unlawful or arbitrary surveillance."
However, with the UK government seeking more powers to monitor web users, it remains to be seen whether it will be one of those agreeing to adopt the motion.
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