ECHR: Calls for surveillance law reform after Strasbourg court victory (Irish Council for Civil Liberties, link). Full-text of judgment (pdf)
"Leading human rights groups in Ireland and the United Kingdom have today called for urgent reform of surveillance laws, after securing a significant victory in their case before the European Court of Human Rights.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Liberty and British-Irish Rights Watch took their case to Strasbourg because, over a seven year period, all telephone, fax, e-mail and data communications between the UK and Ireland, including legally privileged and confidential information, were intercepted and stored en masse by an Electronic Test Facility operated by the British Ministry of Defence.
The European Court of Human Rights has found that the rules governing data interception in the United Kingdom did not “as required by the Court’s case-law, set out in a form accessible to the public any indication of the procedure to be followed for selecting for examination, sharing, storing and destroying intercepted material. The interference with the applicants’ rights under Article 8 (the right to privacy) was not, therefore, “in accordance with the law”. It follows that there has been aviolation of Article 8 in this case.”
International Action Day "Freedom not fear - Stop the surveillance mania!" on 11 October 2008 (link) "A broad movement of campaigners and organizations is calling on everybody to join action against excessive surveillance by governments and businesses. On 11 October 2008, concerned people in many countries will take to the streets, the motto being "Freedom not fear 2008". Peaceful and creative action, from protest marches to parties, will take place in many capital cities." The demands are:
- no blanket registration of all air travellers (PNR data)
- no information exchange with the US and other states lacking effective data protection
- no secret searches of private computer systems, neither online nor offline
- no blanket surveillance and filtering of internet communications (EU Telecoms-Package)
- abolish the blanket logging of our communications and locations (data retention)
- abolish the blanket collection of our biometric data as well as RFID passports
- abolish the blanket collection of genetic data
- abolish permanent CCTV camera surveillance and automatic detection techniques
- scrap funding for the development of new surveillance techniques
"Gary McKinnon, the British hacker who embarrassed the Pentagon and Nasa by entering their computer systems from a flat in north London, has lost his long battle against extradition. Yesterday it was announced that he has been unsuccessful in his appeal to the European court of human rights and must now submit himself for trial in the US."
Over 70 migrants feared killed on crossing to Europe (Guardian, link)
UK-USA: US warning to court in alleged torture case (Guardian, link) "The US state department yesterday warned that disclosure of secret information in the case of a British resident said to have been tortured before he was sent to Guantánamo Bay would cause "serious and lasting damage" to security relations between the countries."
EU: Proposed new EU border control system (pdf) Report for the European Parliament LIBE Committee by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex
EU: An analysis of the Commission Communications on future development of Frontex and the creation of a European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) (pdf) Report for the European Parliament LIBE Committee
"The [Commission] evaluation, however, falls short of critically assessing the consistence of Frontex activities with the fundamental values upheld by the EU. In this
regard, it seems important to recall that Frontex is a first-pillar, Community body, which should not only respect the EU fundamental values in its activities, but also work for their promotion, particularly in a field which touches upon critical questions related to migration and freedom of movement."
EU: Commission finally publish full decision on air travel passenger rules: Regulation laying down measures for the implementation of the common basic standards on aviation security (pdf)
UK: MI5 criticised for role in case of torture, rendition and secrecy (Guardian, link)
UK: Swarms of robots join the army (Guardian, link) Intelligent swarms of autonomous robots that look like insects could soon be deployed for military information-gathering and reconnaissance
Council of Europe: Application of Convention 108 to the profiling mechanism (pdf)
France: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee: France (pdf)
UK: Border Agency: A strong new force at the border (pdf)
Italy: Silvio Berlusconi under fire as Pope appears to back warning about fascism (Guardian, link)
UK: Unmanned spy planes to police Britain (Independent, link) The Government is drawing up plans to use unmanned "drone" aircraft currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan to counter terrorism and aid police operations in Britain.
UK: PRIVATE SECURITY: The new spies by Stephen Armstrong (New Statesman, link) When the Cold War ended, it didn't spell curtains for the secret agent. Private espionage is a booming industry and environmental protest groups are its prime target.
EU: Statewatch analysis: The surveillance of travel where everyone is a suspect (pdf) by Tony Bunyan.
- “all travellers are... considered a priori as potential law breakers”
- travellers to be checked by “an automated gate and kiosk” (machines)
IRELAND: Irish bus pass is ‘identity card by stealth’ (Times, link)
What the "Outcomes" of EU-US meetings show is the extraordinary influence that the US has on EU justice and home affairs policies and practice. The dominant theme is US demands for access to EU data, intelligence and databases and ensuring that US interests are not threatened (eg: by EU data protection standards). There is also evidence of "policy-laundering", for example, detailed G8 questionnaires drafted by the US which all EU governments have to respond to (eg: use of intelligence in criminal investigation and prosecution).
UK: MANDATORY RETENTION OF ALL INTERNET USAGE: Home Office consultation: Transposition of Directive 2006/24/EC (pdf), which concerns:
"the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks.. [to] ensure that certain data is retained to enable public authorities to undertake their lawful activities to investigate, detect and prosecute crime and to protect the public."
In plain english the government wants to keep and access everyone's internet usage and internet telephony in the UK - more than 1 billion items a day.
ITALY: Fundamental Rights Agency Incident Report: Violent attacks against Roma in the Ponticelli district of Naples, Italy (pdf)
EU-PNR: European travel operators and travel agents' comments on the EU-PNR (passenger name record) system reveal strong reservations on the proposal: European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations letter to Council Presidency (EU doc no: 12360/08, pdf).
- Scope: the Framework Decision: "ECTAA considers that the proposal for a Framework Decision should only cover data for passengers on flight into and out of the EU. It is essential that it is not extended to intra-EU flights."
- Scope: "it is fundamental that data will not be used other than for border purposes"
- Costs: "This proposal will have significant technical, operational and financial consequences for carriers. Inevitably that cost will be passed on by the carriers to the end user, the passenger" - so we will be paying for our own surveillance
- US demands: PNR data is currently transmitted to the USA after a flight departs. The USA demand for data 24 hours in advance and immediately after flight closure is called "an uneccessary duplication". In addition: "Charter carriers in particular rarely receive such information in advance of 24 hours" and "To put in place an advance system for charter carriers would be costly and require considerable time as the current systems used by tour operators do not lend themselves to this."
Background: The Council working party has abandoned discussions on the Commission's proposal for an EU-PNR scheme and are going to start again drawing up their own proposal because a number of EU governments want to go much further. With the UK in the lead a number of member states want:
- the system to cover not just flights in and out of the EU but also flights between EU countries plus all flights within each country;
- the system to cover not just all flights but all sea and land travel as well;
- the data and information gathered to be used not just for entry-exit but also for any law enforcement purpose.
See: Note from the Austrian delegation: EU doc no: 11724/08 Council Presidency Note: EU do no: 11281/08 and Council Presidency Note: 11772/09 plus penultimate draft of the proposal during discussions in the Council's Multidisciplinary group on organised crime: EU doc no: 7656/08 Rev 2
EU: Schengen police cooperation handbook - National Fact Sheets (618k, pdf) Contains useful summary of national laws/powers concerning the carrying of guns by officers, surveillance and pursuit plus listing of relevant agencies.
UK: Tories pledge to grant police greater surveillance powers - for non-terrorist cases (Guardian, link)
UK: Uproar at plan to hold inquests in secret (Times, link)
Italy: European Race Bulletin: The Italian general election and its aftermath (IRR link, pdf)
EU: Secret report on new five year plan for "European Home Affairs" proposes creation of an EU-USA Area of cooperation for "freedom, security and justice" (justice and home affairs): Future Report: Freedom, Security, Privacy – European Home Affairs in an open world (full-text, pdf)
"By 2014 the European Union should make up its mind with regard to the political objective to realise a Euro-Atlantic area of cooperation in the field of freedom, security and justice with the United States."
Contrary to some press reports (see below) the proposed Area of EU-USA JHA cooperation would not just cover terrorism and passenger data but would cover the whole area of justice and home affairs - policing, immigration, sharing database data and biometrics and harmonising laws.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
"All the evidence from dozens of high-level EU-USA meetings on justice and home affairs since 11 September 2001 shows that it is a one-way street with the EU trying to fend off USA demands. When the EU does not cave in the USA simply negotiates bilateral deals with individual member states.
A permanent EU-USA pact would be disastrous for privacy and civil liberties."
- Secret EU security draft risks uproar with call to pool policing and give US personal data (Guardian, link)
- EU plan: The rise and rise of the securocrats (Daily Telegraph, link)
- Interesting background: Bush letter to the EU, 16 October 2001
EU: FUTURE GROUP - JUSTICE REPORT: In addition to the above report on "European Home Affairs" the EU Future Group has also presented a report by the High Level Advisory Group on: The Future of European Justice Policy Proposed Solutions for the Future EU Justice Programme (pdf)
UK: Home Office: Police use of taser figures as at August 2008 (pdf) and Police: Amnesty voices concern as use of Taser guns grows (Guardian, link)
EU: Report from UK House of Lords Select Committee: Initiation of EU Legislation (216 pages, pdf):
"The purpose of this report is to explore the processes by which ideas are transformed into EU legislation, principally by the Commission, and to draw conclusions as to the appropriateness of those processes in today’s EU. Our starting point was to ask: “Where do the ideas for legislation come from?” and “How are ideas developed to the point when they are brought forward as formal legislative proposals?”
UK: TERRORIST LAW - 42 DAYS: House of Lords: Select Committee on the Constitution: Counter-Terrorism Bill: The Role of Ministers, Parliament and the Judiciary (pdf). See: Terrorism: Lords say 42-day law will put fair trials at risk (Guardian, link)
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Atlanta Declaration and Plan of Action for the Advancement of the Right of Access to Information (pdf)
"We, over 125 members of the global access to information community from 40 countries, representing governments, civil society organizations, international bodies and financial institutions, donor agencies and foundations, private sector companies, media outlets and scholars, gathered in Atlanta, Georgia from February 27-29, 2008, under the auspices of the Carter Center and hereby adopt the following Declaration and Plan of Action to advance the passage, implementation, enforcement, and exercise of the right of access to information"
UK-USA-RENDITION: Reprieve Press Release: As New Evidence Emerges that ‘War on Terror’ Prisoners were Held on Diego Garcia, Reprieve Demands Immediate Action from the British Government (pdf)
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