S.O.S. Europe
Statewatch Observatory on Surveillance in Europe
see also: Observatory in defence of freedom and democracy - new measures affecting civil liberties after 11 September 2001, 11 March 2004, 7 & 21 July 2005 and Statewatch's list of Observatories

Statewatch database search for "surveillance"

and Statewatch Analyses
The "war on freedom and democracy"

Journalism, civil liberties and the war on terrorism (full-report/request printed copy) - Special report by the International Federation of Journalists and Statewatch. This 64 page report includes an analysis of current policy developments as well as a survey of 20 selected countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin Amercia, the Middle East and the USA.

“An atmosphere of fear and uncertainty is being created and civil liberties are being torn to shreds, even in states with a reputation for tolerance and pluralism,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “This report is an alarm call to democracies," said Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director. "In the name of the "politics of fear" we are in great danger of sleepwalking into a surveillance society while the democratic values we have taken for granted are being sacrificed in the ‘war on terrorism’” (10. May 2005).

The “war on freedom and democracy”: a 5,000 word analysis of the effects on civil liberties and democratic culture in the EU by Statewatch editor,Tony Bunyan: Analysis

Experts on Fundamental Rights highly critical of EU response to 11 September: Updated: 6 May 2003 with the final version of the report: Commentary Thematic report on freedom and security and responses to terrorist threats (pdf)

(25.9.03) Biometrics - EU takes another step down the road to 1984: Report

- biometric documents for visas and resident third country nationals to be introduced by 2005
- biometric passports/documents for EU citizens to follow
- "compulsory" fingerprints and facial images
- data and personal information to be held on national and EU-wide databases
- admission that powers of data protection authorities vary and are "under-resourced"
- no guarantees that data will not be made available to non-EU states (eg: USA)

(20.10.03) Statewatch submission to the EU Network on Independent Experts on fundamental rights raises 22 major civil liberties concerns: Statewatch submission

"Left unchecked basic freedoms and democratic standards - freedom of movement, freedom of expression and the right to protest, freedom from surveillance in everyday life, accountability, scrutiny and data protection - will be whittled away one by one threatening the very democracy being defended by the "war on terrorism" "

EU anti-terrorism plans

31.3.04: EU to adopt passenger name record scheme (PNR) - UK demands that data can be kept indefinitely and accessible by all law enforcement agencies agreed: Report and draft Directive

Summit nods through "EU Homeland Security" package: Report and documentation

"the two most intrusive measures in the pipeline - mandatory retention of communications data and the compulsory fingerprinting of nearly everyone in Europe for biometric documents - did not even get into the draconian US Homeland Security package, their citizens were up in arms when these ideas were floated"

25.3.04: Exclusive:
Statewatch's "Scoreboard" and analysis on the threats to civil liberties and privacy in EU terrorism plans shows that 27 of the 57 proposals on the table have little or nothing to do with tackling terrorism - they deal wuth crime in general and surveillance: Scoreboard and analysis

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments: "Under the guise of tackling terrorism the EU is planning to bring in a swathe of measures to do with crime and the surveillance of the whole population. After the dreadful loss of life and injuries in Madrid we need a response that unites Europe rather than divides it"

EU-US cooperation

EU: Full-text of the Resolution adopted by the European Parliament at its plenary session on 31 March 2004 opposing the transfer of passenger data (PNR) to the USA and reserving the right to take the issue to the European Court of Justice: EP Resolution (pdf)

EU plan for the USA to get access to personal details of airline passengers (PNR):
- European Parliament rapporteur writes to national parliaments:
Text of letter (pdf)
- Speech by Stafano Rodota, chair of the EU's Article 29 Data Protection Working Party to the European Parliament's Committee of Citizens' Freedoms and rights:
Text of speech (pdf)
- text of the draft
Commission Decision on the "adequacy" of the EU-US agreement on PNR as agreed at the General Affairs Council on 16.2.04 plus amended pages 7-10 of the US "Undertakings" - the latter should be read in conjunction with the "Undertakings" dated 12 January: 12 Jan version of "Undertakings" (pdf)

EU leads call for global agreement on the exchange of passenger data (PNR): Report

EU draft Decision on the "adequacy" of the US "Undertakings" on access to PNR: Full-text and analysis

"Privacy is one of the basic values of human life and personal data is the main gateway enabling entry into it. The citizens of countries that experienced a period of totalitarian regimes have that a hard experience - when privacy was not considered of value and was sacrificed to the interest of the state" (Hana Stepankova, Czech Office for Personal Data Protection, on handing over personal passenger data to the USA, Prague Post, 11.12.03)

EU planning to nod through use of PNR data for use by CAPPS II: Report and documentation

EU's data protection working party produces damning report on EU-US exchange of passenger data: Report and documentation

Statewatch special: Full-text of EU-US agreement on the transfer of personal data: EU-US agreement

Privacy International report on transfer of PNR data to USA: Press release and report

EU: Belgian Privacy Committee supports MEP's complaint on illegal transfer of personal data to USA: Finding

EU-USA PNR agreement: ACLU letter to EU Commissioner Bolkestein - Northwest Airlines Privacy Violations

The US-VISIT Program, Increment 1, Privacy Impact Assessment (dated 18.12.03) (pdf)

Commission did agree that PNR data can be used for CAPPS II testing, but the question is why? Report and analysis

- contrary to Mr Bolkestein's claim a whole host of US agencies will have access to the data
- lifetime travel dossiers to be created and held for 100 years on every traveller

USA to use EU PNR data for CAPPS II testing despite assurances no agreement covering it:

EU: Commission "compromises" and agrees on handing over passenger data to USA: Report and documents

"What is quite unforgivable is that the European Commission thinks that the EU-USA deal - with a state which has no data protection laws and no intention of adopting them - is a better basis for a global standard than the EU's data protection laws which have served as a model for many countries around the world." (Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor)

EU: Form of deal on handing over passenger data to USA in doubt: Report

European airlines are handing PNR data over to US Customs - Evidence from Spain: Report & documents

EU tells USA to stop making new requests to airlines for personal passenger data: Report and letter

European Parliament report opposes giving passenger data to USA without strict data protection safeguards - and says if these are not met by 1 December all data transfers should stop: Report

Data protection: International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners adopt series of resolutions calling for global standards: Report and documentation

European Commission tells USA that demands for access to data on airline passengers breaches EU Data Protection Directive - but hints at a deal that would "fudge" the issue (update 15.9.03): Report and documentation

EU airlines allowing access to all personal details on passengers by US authorities: Report

Germany: Introduction of biometric features worries privacy rights advocates: Report

EU: JHA Council to authorise signing of EU-USA agreements on extradition and mutual legal assistance - European Parliament adopts highly critical report and Amnesty International say extradition agreement flawed: Report

EU: Council capitulates and releases draft EU-US agreements: Report and full documentation
- pressure from civil society and parliaments leads to release of draft agreements
- UK parliament demands six weeks to scrutinise agreements
- drafts confirm that references to the International Criminal Court (ICC) are excluded
- application of EU data protection standards are "precluded"
- FBI and other US agencies to operate in EU in joint investigation teams with full powers of search, surveillance and arrest

EU: Spain proposes data on all airline passengers to be sent to law enforcement agencies and for extra checks on all foreign nationals entering the EU: Special Report

US Customs to have direct access to EU airlines reservations databases: Report

EU-USA: Proposed exchange of personal data between Europol and USA evades EU data protection rights and protections: Special report

Secret EU-US agreement being negotiated: Secret agreement on criminal matters, investigative procedures and joint teams being negotiated without the the European or national parliaments being consulted. Statewatch refused access to full-text of document because: “the interest of protecting the Council’s objectives outweighs the interest in “democratic control”": Special Report

Targeting, databases and the exchange of data

EU: Compulsory fingerprinting for all passports

- EU to back demand by Italy, Germany, France, Greece, Spain, Malta, Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia for mandatory fingerprinting
- only Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia oppose move
- UK and Germany want to have a third biometric - "iris scans" too in addition to facial scans and fingerprints
- EU Data Protection Commissioners are: "fundamentally" opposed to the creation of an EU-wide database

UK: "Sleepwalking into a surveillance society?" - Information Commissioner: Report

19.2.04: The road to "1984" Part 2: EU: Proposal for biometrics on all citizens' passports, including full-text of proposal: Report

UK: Home Secretary launches ID card scheme: Report and documents

EU: "health cards" and 10 year driving licences pose privacy questions: Report

EU Summit: Agreement on "harmonised" biometric identification linked to EU databases: Report

EU working party on data protection highly critical of proposed deal on US access to passenger data: Report

EU: Campaign launched against the illegal transfer of European travellers' data to the USA: Report

"Secret Europe": Denied EU document reveals issues of public interest: document refused on grounds it concerned the "campaign against terrorism" contains further far-reaching proposals on surveillance, particularly of immigrants, including: "preventive information gathering": Report

EU Presidency proposal on security screening of all immigrants: Statewatch analysis

The surveillance of telecommunications

EU: Data retention proposal: Statement and press release from Forum Computer Professionals for Peace and Social Responsibility (FIfF) e.V. and German Organisation for Data Protection (DVD) e.V.and thirteen NGOs: "It is not to late to avert those plans which will not lead to more safety but rather to more surveillance. We urge all democratic forces to help us prevent another step into a state of surveillance." Statement and press release on EU data retention plans (pdf) See also EU surveillance of telecommunications: Statewatch analysis

EDRI (European Digital Rights) summary of the consultation by the European Commission on new EU plans for mandatory retention of telecom traffic data on 21 September: Summary See also: Over 90 non-governmental organizations - including Statewatch - and 80 companies have endorsed Privacy International's call: Invasive, illusory, illegal and illegitimate and EU surveillance of telecommunications: Statewatch analysis

5.8.04: EU: European Commission DG Information Society and DG Justice and Home Affairs have launched a public consultation on the issue of traffic data retention. A public workshop is planned on 21 September 2004, in Brussels. See:

i. Consultation document (pdf)
ii. Proposal from UK, France, Ireland and Sweden (pdf)
iii. Statewatch analysis of the proposal

29.4.04: EU/Surveillance of telecommunications: Data retention comes to roost - telephone and internet privacy to be abolished:
Statewatch analysis of proposed EU Framework Decision:

- proposal broader in scope than 2002 version; grave gaps in civil liberties protection remain;
- data to be held for between 12 and 36 months, though member states can opt for longer if they choose;
- data to be retained extended from "traffic data" to traffic and "location data";
- scope extended from 32 specific offences to any crime;
- scope extended from specific investigations and prosecutions to "prevention and detection" of crime;
- "This is a proposal so intrusive that Ashcroft, Ridge and company can only dream about it, exceeding even the US Patriot Act"

Italy: Data retention – not only a privacy issue: Civil rights and ambiguity of crime “prevention”. A statement by ALCEI – January 24, 2004: Statement

Italy to retain communications data for five years: Report

EU: Mandatory retention of telecommunications data would be unlawful: - Legal opinion says that under the ECHR mandatory data retention is disproportionate, contrary to the rule of law and cannot be said to be necessary in a democratic society: Report

UK: Government trying to slip through "voluntary" data retention rejected by consultation process: Report and documentation Government leaves the communications industry open to legal challenge if they retain traffic data for the purpose of "national security" and then pass it over for other purposes, for example, for crime, public order or taxation

EU: Major commercial associations express strong concerns about plans for data retention: Report

Ireland - Court threat for state over privacy: Report

UK: Home Office consults on data retention and access to communications data: Report

EU: Majority of governments introducing data retention of communications: Report

UK: Surveillance of communications goes through the roof - doubling under the Labour government: Special Report

Making up the rules: Interception versus privacy from buro jansen & janssen: Report

European Conference of Data Protection Commissioners opposes proposed EU Framework Decision on data retention: statement

EU Presidency issues statement on data retention: - statement does nothing to refute the existence of a draft Framework Decision: Report

EU surveillance of communications: data retention to be "compulsory" for 12-24 months - draft Framework Decision leaked to Statewatch - revised 21.8.02 with press coverage: Special report

EU surveillance of telecommunications: The vote in the European Parliament to accept data retention and surveillance by the law enforcement agencies: Report & Analysis

European Parliament caves in on data retention: Report

The "unholy alliance" of the PSE/socialist group and the PPE/conservative group - who together have a large majority in the parliament - today, 30 May, joined forces with the Spanish Presidency of the EU and voted to accept the demands of EU governments and law enforcement agencies to place telecommunications under surveillance. The rapporteur (M Cappato), the ELDR (Liberals), Green/EFA group and the GUE (United Left) voted against.

Responses by civil society groups to Ms. Paciotti (PSE MEP, socialist group) letter of 28 May 2002:
Responses by civil society groups (updated 31.5.02)

UK government forced to delay new surveillance powers: government withdraws order to extend powers to 1,039 public authorities; Chief Surveillance Commissioner admits: "I clearly cannot carry out any meaningful oversight of so many bodies without assistance": Report

Europol document confirms that the EU plans a "common EU law enforcement viewpoint on data retention": Report

EU surveillance of telecommunications: The vote in the European Parliament to accept data retention and surveillance by the law enforcement agencies: Report & Analysis

European Parliament caves in on data retention
- the PSE/socialist group have joined the EPP/conservative group and accepted the demands of EU governments and law enforcement agencies to place communications under surveillance:

"On this issue no "compromise" is possible. Either MEPs vote in favour of maintaining the existing 1997 Directive which only allows traffic and location data to be kept for billing purposes (ie: for the benefit of the customers) or they vote in favour of data being retained so that EU law enforcement agencies (police, customs, immigration and internal security agencies) can get access to it.

To be told by the two largest groups in the European Parliament, the PSE and PPE, that the inclusion of references to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and EC Community law makes the EU governments' demand for data retention and the surveillance of telecommunications acceptable is sheer nonsense. The ECHR and Community law automatically apply to all EU Directives and therefore reference to them is simply "window-dressing" " (Statewatch)

Coalition asks European Parliament to vote against data retention: Report

European Parliament committee chair tries to reach a "deal" with the Council on the surveillance of communications: Report

Exclusive: EU governments are secretly drafting a binding Framework Decision to introduce the universal surveillance of telecommunications: Report

EU surveillance of telecommunications: Mystery of the missing minutes which surface nearly a year late: Report

Surveillance of telecommunications in the EU: narrow vote in European Parliament on data retention: Report

UK: Telephone-tapping and mail-opening warrants for 2000 in Britain, plus full figures for 1937-2000: Report

European Parliament and EU governments on a collision course over the retention of data (telecommunications surveillance), text of Council's position: Report (21.11.01)

EU Forum on cybercrime: Discussion Paper for Expert’s Meeting on Retention of Traffic Data, 6 November 2001. An informal Working Paper prepared by the Commission services: EU Forum on cybercrime

UK plans for the retention of data for 12 months: Report (19.11.01)
- UK to introduce data retention for 12 months under "voluntary code"
- Power to introduce mandatory retention available too
- UK derogates from 1997 EU Directive on privacy and pre-empts EU decision on data surveillance

Interception of telecommunications in the EU: Update (2.11.01)
- US calls for EU data protection to be ditched
- Council Legal Services says governments already have powers to combat terrorism
- European Parliament committee re-affirms its report on new directive

EU governments want the retention of all telecommunications data for general use by law enforcement agencies under terrorism plan: Report (26.9.01)
- governments want to use new terrorism measures to put all communications under surveillance
- governments demanding that EU data protection and privacy laws be "revised" to allow for retention
- Statewatch report on "Data protection or data retention in the EU?"

Data retention introduced in UK and USA: Report  (19.9.01)

The surveillance of telecommunications in Europe (the EU-FBI plan)
Special Statewatch report

EU governments to decide on data retention of telecommunications: European Commission and EU's Data Protection Working Party strongly opposed to move led by the UK

(28.6.01) The "law and order" lobby win the first round on the retention of data: the European Commission says the European Parliament must now reject the Council's position

(5.7.01) The EU-FBI "Requirements" come home to the UK

History and background to the EU-FBI plan for the surveillance of telecommunications: EU-FBI

Updates | Summary | Full report | Documentation - full-text

Protests, public order and surveillance

Video surveillance - data protection report: Article 29 Working Party

Italian EU Council Presidency: Plan to put protestors under surveillance and deny entry to suspected troublemakers: Special Report

EU: Exchanging information on terrorists or protestors? Report

Denmark: Border checks for people "suspected of intending to carry out disturbances": Report

UK: Government wants to introduce compulsory ID cards: Report

EU plans to extend the Schengen Information System (SIS) to: i) create EU database to target "suspected" protestors and bar them from entering a country where a protest is planned; ii) create EU database of all "foreigners" to remove third country nationals who have not left within the "prescribed time frame": Special Statewatch report (3.12.01)

Proposal to create EU para-military police units to counter protests: Report

EU plans to combat terrorism: definition of "terrorism" to cover groups with the aim of "seriously altering... the political, economic or social structure" of one or more countries and their institutions and includes "urban violence" (21.9.01): Report and documents

Public order: The "enemy within": EU plans for the surveillance of protestors and the criminalisation of protests: Statewatch report  (22.8.01)

Council of Europe Convention on cybercrime

European Commission proposal for a Framework Decision on cybercrime, including cyber-terrorism: News in brief

Council of Europe: Cybercrime Convention to be formally adopted on 8 November: Cybercrime
Draft Convention: no 27

This site has been launched, in cooperation with Privacy International, to bring together a number of disturbing developments in Europe and globally that are being developed by the EU or in international fora

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