The Estonian picked as the United Nation’s first digital privacy investigator was blocked on Friday by the German president of the UN Human Rights Council, Joachim Ruecker, after activist groups said she would not be a strong enough critic of US surveillance, The Guardian reported over the weekend.
Katrin Nyman-Metcalf was the candidate ranked first by a “consultative group” of five ambassadors from Poland, Chile, Greece, Algeria and chair Saudi Arabia. But when it came to approving her appointment, Ruecker said he was overruling 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, according to the British daily.
The digital privacy investigator would 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 to The Guardian that Estonia was sometimes seen as pro-American and Ruecker had told her that civil society groups felt she was not “activist” enough.
Estonian ambassador to UN, Jüri Seilenthal, said that Ruecker had ignored the three criteria for the job – competence, gender balance and regional representation – and Ruecker “just cannot be objective on this.”
Nyman-Metcalf is currently the Head of the Chair of Law and Technology at Tallinn Law School, which forms part of Tallinn University of Technology. She is also involved in international consultancy, primarily in the area of information and communication technology law, including e-governance. Nyman-Metcalf was born and grew up in Sweden and earned her PhD and Master’s degree from the University of Uppsala.
Editor: S. Tambur