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European Parliament slams UK over mass surveillance

You've been a very naughty boy
Thu Jan 09 2014, 11:04

A COMMITTEE of the European Parliament has produced a report that heavily criticises member states for their mass surveillance.

The report was produced by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs [PDF]. Described as a draft, and signed by rapporteur Claude Moraes, the report concerns itself with the US National Security Agency (NSA) telephone and internet surveillance dragnet and the impact it has on European countries.

Real issues stemmed from the Edward Snowden revelations last summer, it said, and those raised questions about whether European privacy and data standards are being observed.

"The revelations since June 2013 have caused numerous concerns within the EU," it said, adding that these include concerns about how much cooperation and involvement "certain member states" have with the US in their own similar programmes.

The report singled out the UK for playing along with the NSA and for having its own comparable system, called Tempora. While there are strong indications that the UK is a bad apple, limited but still related systems might be in use in Germany and France, according to the committee.

"[Note] the allegations of 'hacking' or tapping into the Belgacom systems by the UK intelligence agency GCHQ," it noted. "Belgacom [said] that it could not confirm that EU institutions were targeted or affected, and that the malware used was extremely complex and required the use of extensive financial and staffing resources for its development and use that would not be available to private entities or hackers."

The committee recommended that the US and EU member States cease and prohibit "blanket mass surveillance activities and bulk processing of personal data", and suggested in particular that the UK clear up its complicated and conflicted legal situation.

"Given the extensive media reports referring to mass surveillance in the UK, [we] would emphasise that the current legal framework which is made up of a 'complex interaction' between three separate pieces of legislation - the Human Rights Act 1998, the Intelligence Services Act 1994 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 - should be revised," it added.

The UK is back into a discussion about whistleblowers and their rights. Here the committee said that more should be done to protect individuals and the media that have revelations of their own.

"When supervisory mechanisms fail to prevent or rectify mass surveillance, the role of media and whistleblowers in unveiling eventual illegalities or misuses of power is extremely important," continued the report.

"Reactions from the US and UK authorities to the media have shown the vulnerability of both the press and whistleblowers and the urgent need to do more to protect them." µ


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