November

EU biometric ID Card: European Association for Human Rights (AEDH) statement: Biometry and electronic ID card : Big Brother is watching you (pdf) Biométrie et carte d’identité électronique : Big Brother is watching you (French, pdf) Biométrie et carte d’identité électronique : Big Brother is watching you (Spanish, pdf) and

Biometric EU Identity Cards: Belgium government enters reservation on fingerprinting and RFID chips (EU doc no: 14622/05, with full-text of the Council Conclusions due to be adopted on 1 December at the Justice and Home Affairs Council)

The Origins of the National Security Agency (NSA), 1940-1952, link

EU: European Arrest Warrant (EAW): Interesting note in the Outcome of Proceedings of the Article 36 Committee on 15-16 November 2005: "Cyprus: The Committee took note of the information provided by Cyprus on the decision by the Supreme Court of Cyprus to prohibit surrender by its nationals pending the amendment to its Constitution. The Council Legal Service informed the Committee that the Council had decided to intervene in a case pending before the Court of Justice concerning the Framework Decision on the European Arrest Warrant. It also noted that only Hungary and the Czech Republic (of the 10 new Member States; of the other 15, 12 had done so) had decided to permit requests for preliminary rulings under Article 35 TEU and asked these delegations to inform the Council of the reasons why they had not used this opportunity. Were there any impediments?"

Germany: State spying on journalists

EU: Mandatory data retention, Council position as at 29 November 2005

EU: Visa Information System (VIS):

a. "Roll-out" plan for priority countries (pdf)
b. European Commission Communication on access to VIS (pdf)

It should be noted that the "collison" of chips (ie: the EU visa chip with national passport chips) has yet to be resolved, see: EU: Biometric visa policy unworkable and EU Data protection working party criticise proposals on VIS and Statewatch analysis on linkage between SIS II and VIS

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council on 1-2 December:

1. The European Union Strategy for Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terrorism"
2. The European Union Counter-Terrorism Strategy (pdf)
3.A Strategy for the External Dimension of JHA : Global Freedom, Security and Justice global strategy (pdf)

EU: Mandatory data retention: Report from the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties as amended (see below) dated 28 November 2005

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 1-2 December 2005: Background Note (pdf)

EU-UK: Report from the Home Affairs Select Committee on the European Evidence Warrant (pdf)

EU: Data retention a step closer - privacy sell out as EP committee approves "compromises" reached in secret meetings (provisional EP report). An alliance between PPE (conservative) and PSE (socialist) MEPs on the European Parliament's civil liberties committee has adopted a series of amendments to the Alvaro report on data retention, overturning earlier opposition to the proposals and demands to restrict them. The "compromise" amendments, which pave the way for the mandatory retention of everyone's telephone and internet usage records for one year, follow secret "trialogue" meetings between representatives of the EP and the Council (representing the member state governments) and unprecedented pressure on MEPs from the UK presidency. The vote was 33 to 8 in favour of the PPE-PSE amendments, with 5 abstentions, green and left MEPs voting against (see Green group press release). The report may now be fast tracked through the December plenary session of the EP (scheduled for the week beginning Monday 12 December).

For full background, see Statewatch's Observatory on the surveillance of telecommunications in the EU

Russia: Russian MPs act to 'curb' NGOs (BBC, link). In a 370-18 vote, the State Duma approved in the first reading the bill that would require all NGOs to re-register with a state commission.

It is interesting that the EU is also discussing similar proposals, a Commission paper on "Transparency" says they are considering: "compulsory registration of interest groups represented in consultative bodies and/or compulsory registration for all lobbyists." (emphasis added: "Lobbyists" include multinational lobbying and NGOs/voluntary groups) see: European Transparency Initiative (pdf). This is in the context of a proposed new Code of Conduct for non-profit groups who, it is claimed (though no evidence has been presented) could be used to channel funds for terrorist groups. See also the Council's latest thoughts: Code of Conduct : Non-Profit Sector (pdf)

Spain: Analysis: Spanish anti-terrorist policy, with the wind blowing in its favour (pdf)

EU: EU to query US 'secret prisons' (BBC, 23.11.05) on CIA "rendition" flights in and over EU countries: Malta (link) Spain (BBC, link), UK (Guardian, link), US detention centres in EU (Council of Europe, link) and US detention centres (UPI, link) and euractiv (link)

Brussels: Press Seminar The European Ombudsman: 10 years, 20,000 complaints — too many? "A more open and accountable EU administration - the next steps for the Commission, the Parliament and the Ombudsman"

EU: Opinion of the Advocate-General on the European Parliament's case on EU-US PNR before the Court of Justice: Press release (pdf) Full-text of Opinion (French, 4.52MB, pdf). For background and documentation See Statewatch's Observatory exchange of passenger data with the USA

Advocate general backs Parliament challenge on passenger records (euractiv, link) EU-US air data accord under legal threat (eupolitix, links)

UK: Health on-line: public attitudes to data sharing in the Scottish NHS by the Scottish Consumer Council. Interesting report as most people do not realise that a national NHS database is being set up containing all patient's personal records. It is being created on the basis that people have to "opt-out" (presuming they know what is happening) rather than positive consent by "opting-in".

UK: Submission on Parliamentary supervision of terrorism legislation from Dr Chris Pounder (Editor of Data Protection and Privacy Practice) to the Home Affairs Select Committee

EU: Transparency in the Council of the European Union: following the Special Report from the European Ombudsman the Council Presidency has put forward an "Options" Note: Transparency in the Council Option 1 would require changes in the Council's Rules of Procedure while Option 2 would simply tinker within the existing Rules. The accompanying Summary is misleading as it suggests that it is the norm for all preparatory documents to be released when a legal act is adopted - in fact great swathes of documents are refused under the exceptions (Art 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4. and 4.5 of Regulation 1049/01). See also: European Ombudsman finds Council has given no valid reasons for continuing to legislate behind closed doors (press release) Full-text of the Special Report from the European Ombudsman (pdf)

UK: Identity cards in Britain: past experience and policy implications by Jon Agar in History and Policy (link)

Russia: UK Human rights lawyer deported - On 15 November Professor Bill Bowring was refused entry and sent back to London without any explanation. He had visited Russia many times before and on this occasion was going to observe the trial of a journalist. Bill Bowring is Academic Coordinator of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) which takes cases to the European Court of Human Rights. Letter to the Russian Ambassador from the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (pdf) Letter from the UK embassy in Moscow (pdf)

EU: European Ombudsman issues critical report against the Council of the European Union which tried to hide documents from applicant: Press release (pdf) Full-text of decision (link). Having first denied the existence of more documents than admitted the Council claimed that due to a "clerical error" ten other documents not been located.

EU: EU governments to write to US (euobserver, link) on CIA "rendition" flights in and over EU countries: Malta (link) Spain (BBC, link), UK (Guardian, link), US detention centres in EU (Council of Europe, link) and US detention centres (UPI, link) and euractiv (link)

EU: Mandatory data retention - the shifting sands of "compromises" reached out of public view See for full background and documentation: Statewatch's Observatory on the surveillance of telecommunications in the EU

"The authoritarian within: Reflections on power, knowldge and resistance", Phil Scraton, Inaugural Professorial Lecture, Queen’s University, Belfast, 9 June 2005

Netherlands: Local political activist shot dead in Nijmegen

EU: Mandatory data retention: European Parliament rapporteurs agree list of "compromise" amendments: "Compromise amendments" (19 pages, pdf) - this has been whittled down from the: Full list of amendments (167 pages, pdf). The parliament's new list of amendments were the basis for a "trilogue" (closed meeting between rapporteurs, Council and Commission) on 15 November. If a common set of "compromise" amendments can be agreed between the parliament and the Council they will be "fast-tracked" through to the plenary session on 14-15 December for adoption. See for full background and documentation: Statewatch's Observatory on the surveillance of telecommunications in the EU

Meanwhile the UK Select Committee on European Scrutiny in the House of Commons put out a Report (pdf) on 8 November which says that the proposal is still under scrutiny awaiting further information from the Home Office Minister. It notes: "No date set" for the proposal to be discussed in Council. In Brussels the UK Presidency of the Council hopes to get agreement before the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 1-2 December and for the measure to be adopted before Christmas. How national parliaments are meant to keep under meaningful scrutiny a proposal whose content is changing day by day is a mystery.

EU: Biometric EU ID Cards to be introduced "by the back door" (EU doc no: 14351/05). The UK Council Presidency set up an "ad-hoc group of experts" which has drawn up a set of "Conclusions" to be adopted at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 1-2 December. "Conclusions" are "soft-law", non-binding, and not subject to any national or European parliamentary scrutiny. Thus working on an "intergovernmental basis" it will be agreed that face and fingerprint biometric will be taken and incorporated in a radio frequency chip, and that the standards agreed for EU passports will "apply without modification". "Minimum standards" say that applicants have to "appear in person" and their identity verified against "existing databases". Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"This is no way to bring in such a far-reaching policy, one which will affect millions of people. It is particularly objectionable that the Council are using a '"proper" EC committee to draw up the text of these Conclusions, without being accountable under the normal rules for these committees and exceeding the committee's powers as set out in legislation.

This method of decision-making (soft-law) is becoming all to common, it was also used to develop the technical requirements (scope and function) for VIS and SIS II. By-passing national and European parliamentary scrutiny, let alone civil society, has no place in a democracy"

EU: Draft Council Conclusions on Migration and External Relations (pdf)

EU: Mandatory data retention: Protecting Privacy in the Information Society - Communications Data Retention policies are invasive, illegal, illusory and illegitimate (pdf). Appeal by Privacy International and European Digital Rights (EDRI) to members of the European Parliament. See for full background and documentation: Statewatch's Observatory on the surveillance of telecommunications in the EU

UK: ID cards: Report from the House of Commons Select Committee on Delegated Powers concludes that the powers being sought are "inappropriate". See commentary on Out-law (link)

UK: Terrorism Bill - as amended - 9 November 2005 (after government defeat on period of detention)

France: Statement opposing the state of emergency and Statement by the immigrant movement MIB on the situation in France

EU: Mandatory retention of telecommunications data: Latest Council negotiating position (8.11.05) The first "trilogue" between the Council and the European Parliament (EP) will take place on 10 November: A timetable has been circulated to MEPs which would allow a "compromise" to be reached with the Council and for the measure to be agreed at 1st reading ("fast-track") at the plenary session on 14-15 December. Comparative chart showing Commission draft Directive, the Council's view and EP amendments: Chart (pdf) See for full background and documentation: Statewatch's Observatory on the surveillance of telecommunications in the EU

UK: Terrorism Bill - Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, said on 7 November in an article for the Evening Standard newspaper that one of the main reasons the police want to hold suspects for 90 days is because of :

"the immense time taken to decode super-encrypted hard drives on computers without a key"

See item below which refutes this claim.

UK: Two top establishment figures, Lord Brown (the Intelligence Services Commissioner) and the Rt Hon Sir Swinton Thomas (Interception of Communications Commissioner), have both - in their annual reports published last week - thrown doubt on the police and government's argument for holding terrorist suspects for 90 days. One of the main arguments put forward is that people need to be detained for questioning (without charge) for more than 14 days because of the difficulty and complexity of decryption. Extraordinarily both reports use exactly the same words on the question of encryption in Part III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) which is not yet in force:

"the use of information security and encryption products by terrorist and criminal suspects is not, I understand, as widespread as had been expected when RIPA was approved by Parliament in the year 2000. Equally the Government's investment in the National Technical Assistance Centre - a Home Office managed facility to undertake complex data processing - is enabling law enforcement agencies to understand, as far as is necessary, protected electronic data"

EU: Comments on the Draft Council Framework Decision on the European enforcement order and the transfer of sentenced persons between Member States of the EU (Initiative of Austria, Finland, Sweden) from the Permanente commissie van deskundigen in internationaal vreemdelingen - vluchtelingen- en strafrecht (The Standing Committee of experts in international immigration, refugee and criminal law - The "Meijers Committee")

EU: Mandatory data retention: Amendments proposed to the Council's draft Directive for the Committee on Civil Liberties in the European Parliament See for full background and documentation: Statewatch's Observatory on the surveillance of telecommunications in the EU

UK: Telephone and communication interception reaches new high - now three times more than when the Labour government came to powe in 1997: Statewatch's Observatory on: Telephone tapping and mail-opening figures 1937- 2004

It is interesting to compare the UK figures with those for the USA, see: The Centre for Democracy and Technology (USA) The comparable figures showed that in 2003 there were more interception warrants issued in the UK than the whole of the USA. Figures for warrants issued by the UK Foreign Office (for the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6 and for GCHQ) were olny published 1980-1984.

UK: Report of the Interception Commissioner for 2004 (pdf)

UK: Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2004 (pdf)

Statewatch has launched an Observatory on the surveillance of telecommunications in the EU - under mandatory data retention a record will be kept of everyone's phone-calls, e-mails, mobile phone calls (including location) and internet usage. The Council (the 25 EU governments) are proposing the data can be accessed by law enforcement agencies for any suspected crime, however minor. The proposal is now being discussed in the European Parliament.

UK: Statement from the families of the men who have been detained pending deportation to countries where they are certain to be tortured and even killed and Letter from the families to Tony Blair, the Prime Minister

UK-EU: Data retention and police access in the UK - a warning for Europe

UK: Racial violence after 7 July - week 17 (IRR News Service)

The right to know or the right to try and find out? The need for an EU freedom of information law, by Ben Hayes (pdf)

Poland and Romania marked as likely locations for CIA camps (link to euobserver)

EU: Mandatory data retention:

1. Critical Opinion of the Article 29 Working Party on Data Protection (pdf)
2. The Council's latest draft positions on its Framework Decision and the Commission's draft Directive (doc no: (13789/05, dated 28.10.05) - effectively the Council's negotiating position
3. Background: Statewatch's: Annotated Guide to the issues and documentation
4. Context: While Europe sleeps.....

Cyprus: Protestors heckle Le Pen and journalists attending speech (link)

Ireland: Immigration-related detention in Ireland A research report for the Irish Refugee Council Irish Penal Reform Trust and Immigrant Council of Ireland (link)

EU: Mandatory data retention: In November the European Parliament will be deciding its position on the European Commission's proposal for a Directive on data retention - which would log everyone's communications (phone, fax, mobiles including location, e-mails and internet usage) and give access law enforcement agencies for the foreseeable future. The UK Council Presidency (representing the 25 EU governments) is demanding that the parliament rush through the measure by the end of November under the 1st reading procedure ("fast-tracking" intended for uncontroversial measures). Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor comments:

"The Council has failed to convince many of us of the need for this measure. But it is good that on such a momentus issue - placing all the communications of everyone under surveillance - that the European Parliament has the full powers of co-decision.

If the security and intelligence agencies - who are at the forefront in stopping terrorist attacks - need access to the telecommunications data to be retained it is very hard to believe that EU governments would have taken over four years to come up with a proposal which will not come into effect for at least two further years. If this is the case they would be guilty of gross negligence and failure to protect the people of Europe. However, if additional powers are needed they should be strictly limited to dealing with terrorism and related offences."

In the interests of ensuring an informed debate here is a: Statewatch: Annotated guide to the issues and documentation on: Mandatory data retention in the EU and the Annotated Guide as a pdf (with live links)


01 November 2005

UK: Terrorism Bill

 

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