March

EU: European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE): Sharing Responsibility for Refugee Protection in Europe: Dublin Reconsidered (pdf) Press release (pdf)

EU: Europol Annual Report for 2007 (pdf)

UK: A PR coup for al-Qaida: Extending pre-charge detention to 42 days will help terrorists, not police. Smarter tactics are needed by Geoffrey Dear is a former chief constable of West Midlands Police and HM inspector of constabulary.(Guardian, Link)

EU-RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Statewatch Supplementary Analysis: The EU's Returns Directive by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex who concludes:

"The EP and the Council have to decide whether their endlessly-repeated support for the principles of fairness, human rights and human dignity is a genuine commitment, or simply empty rhetoric."

EU: Europol Work Programme for 2008 (pdf)

Netherlands: Two deaths in immigration detention in 2 months

UK-USA: Nuclear terror checks stepped up (BBC, link) "Channel Tunnel traffic is to be screened for nuclear material. Vehicles passing through major ports and the Channel Tunnel are to be screened for radioactive material in a bid to combat "nuclear terrorism"" and Watch out, you're being watched (The Seattle Times, link) Nuclear checks find a cat with cancer that had undergone a radiological treatment.

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor: Opinion on security features and biometrics on passports and travel documents (pdf) and Press release (pdf)

EU: ALTER-EU: A study on the composition and transparency of European Commission Expert Groups: Secrecy and corporate dominance (pdf)

UK: Government reply to report from the Joint Human Rights Committee: Counter-Terrorism Policy and Human Rights (Eighth Report): Counter-Terrorism Bill (pdf)

UK: BAA grounds Heathrow T5 fingerprinting system - Data protection forces 11th hour climbdown (The Register, link); ICO queries Heathrow T5's huge fingerprint scam scan - National security now wholly funded by shopping (The Register, link) and Privacy International complaint poised to shut down Heathrow passenger fingerprinting (link)

New issue of Surveillance and Society: Surveillance and Inequality (link)

Update: EU-EUROPOL: Proposal for a Council Decision establishing the European Police Office (EUROPOL) - consolidated text (pdf)

EU capitals ignore Brussels' questions about rendition flights (euobserver, link)

EU: Standing Committee of Experts in international immigration, refugee and criminal law submissions: Draft Framework Decision on certain procedural rights in criminal proceedings (pdf) and Framework Decision on the European supervision order in pre-trial procedures (pdf)

SCOTLAND: Town halls resort to spy tactics (Scotland on Sunday, link)

Italy: Abu Omar trial to go ahead as government is accused of "disloyalty"

USA: EPIC Report on: Bill amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)

Statewatch earlier report from 2007: USA-EU-REST OF WORLD-FISA: US Senate agree to give immunity from prosecution to companies spy on the telecommunications of non-US citizens, that is, the rest of the world under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The Senate agreed that that civil immunity should be afforded to companies that aided the warrantless surveillance program. According to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, immunity will be granted to providers who received a written request for the information stating that the program was authorised by the president and determined to be lawful.

EU-EUROPOL: Proposal for a Council Decision establishing the European Police Office (EUROPOL) - consolidated text (pdf)

UK: National Security Strategy (64 pages, pdf)

USA: Stunning New Report on Domestic NSA Dragnet Spying Confirms ACLU Surveillance Warnings (ACLU, link) ACLU FOI request (pdf)

"The American Civil Liberties Union responded today to a stunning new report that the NSA has effectively revived the Orwellian "Total Information Awareness" domestic-spying program that was banned by Congress in 2003."

“States should not impose penalties on arriving asylum-seekers” by Thomas Hammarberg (CoE, full-text, link):

"A minimum of solidarity with those oppressed is to receive them when they are forced to flee. The “right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution” is indeed a key provision in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sadly, this right is not fully observed in parts of Europe today. Instead, refugees are met with suspicion and too often even placed in detention."

Derechos Humanos en la Frontera Sur 2007 (Human Rights at the Southern Border 2007), Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía

EU: FINGER-PRINTING CHILDREN: The high-level SCIFA/Mixed Committee, meeting on 12 February 2008 discussed the age at which children should be fingerprinted for visas, residence permits and EU passports and travel documents in: EU doc no: 6138/08 At a subsequent meeting of the Visa Working Party, on 18-19 February 2008 (EU doc no: 6952/08) it was reported in SCIFA that for the:

- age limit: the vast majority of delegations agreed on the age of six and even a lower age where the national legislation allows for it. Two delegations maintained the limit of twelve years."

The two governments referred to - Germany and Austria - support the 12 years old and above proposal from the European Parliament.

The "majority" support finger-printing children six years old and over while allowing any government to have a lower age "where national legislation allows for it".

EU: Solana speech on climate change and international security (pdf)

EU: Commission proposal amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the use of the Visa Information System (VIS) under the Schengen Borders Code (pdf)

UK: Challenges and opportunities in identity assurance (pdf) Report commissioned by the government to look at: "how the public and private sectors might work together in identity (ID) management for their mutual benefit and that of citizens and consumers." Argues for a state-multinational alliance to bring about a universal ID card system. Amongst its main conclusions is that:

"an ID system will only help fulfil national security goals if it achieves mass take up and usage.If citizens don’t use a system regularly, it will be capable of providing very limited data for national security agencies." and "Provided the universal ID assurance system infrastructure embraces public services, banking, transportation and e-commerce, it will produce an unrivalled amount of data for national security agencies."

The report is full of assertions and assumption and little evidence, for example:

"Provided that a universal ID assurance system infrastructure embraces public services, banking, transportation and e-commerce, it will enhance security by making it more difficult for anyone to operate outside the system. It will ensure that suspect individuals leave trails of transactions that are ultimately traceable back to unique identity records, albeit only for the purposes of national security."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, observes:

"We would be utterly naive to believe that mass ID surveillance, "making it difficult for anyone outside the system" and "suspect individuals" would be limited to "national security" purposes - which anyway now extends its tentacles into the everyday life of communities".

See also: National Identity Scheme Delivery Plan 2008 (pdf) Issued by the Home Secretary to try and head-off growing opposition to ID cards. It fails to mention that everyone wanting a new passport from 2009 is going to be compulsorily finger-printed.

UK: Border & Immigration Agency: Introducing compulsory identity cards for foreign nationals (pdf)

UK: Parliamentary Joint Human Rights Committee: Data Protection and Human Rights (pdf)

"In the Committee’s view, recent lapses in data protection are not unfortunate “one-off” events but are symptomatic of the Government’s failure to take safeguards sufficiently seriously."

UK: Put young children on DNA list, urge police (Observer, link) and MI5 seeks powers to trawl records in new terror hunt (Observer, link)

UK: MoD loses 11,000 ID cards (The Register, link)

UK: DATA PROTECTION & 25 MILLION LOST FILES: House of Commons Justice Committee: Government response to report on loss of records (pdf) Justice Committee report (pdf)

GREECE: Pro Asyl report: "The truth may be bitter, but it must be told" (pdf) The Situation of Refugees in the Aegean and the Practices of the Greek Coast Guard.

EU: Article 29 Data Protection Working Party: Working Document 1/2008 on the protection of children's personal data (General guidelines and the special case of schools) (pdf)

UK: Third Report of the Independent Reviewer pursuant to Section 14(3) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, Lord Carlile (pdf)

USA-CZECH REPUBLIC MOU: Visa Waiver Scheme: Full text of the US-Czech Memorandum of Understanding signed in February 2008 (pdf) The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has held bilateral talks in addition with: Estonia, Germany, Greece, and the UK. The MOU would introduce exchange of personal data on passengers gathered by Czech law enforcement and passed to the USA and the USA would check and inspect the systems in place to gather the data.

The Council of the European Union is seeking to negotiate from a common position on US demands for the implementation of the visa waiver scheme - the USA has been negotiating bilaterally with individual member states. A statement issued on 5 March: US Visa Waiver Program Legislation (Press release, pdf) and EU doc no: 7337/2008, pdf) - unusually from the Mixed Committee at Permanent Representative level (ie: including Schengen members such as Norway, Iceland and Switzerland).

This sets out negotiating positions in reaction to the MOU circulated by the USA. These include:

- On PNR (passenger name record) the EU says that the EU-US PNR agreement "should suffice and no additional requirements should be added"
- extraordinarily: "No commitment as to access for the US to EU/EC databases or information system". The Czech MOU envisages law enforcement personal data on passengers being passed over to the USA and the US checking the systems through which checks are made
- data on lost and stolen passports should be, as agreed, via Interpol
- international law sets out the obligations to take back expelled citizens and any agreement should be on the basis of reciprocity negotiated at EU level
- the sharing of PNR data obtained from third countries should be consistent with the EU-US PNR agreement

EU-USA: NEGOTIATING AWAY EU DATA PROTECTION: The EU and USA are negotiating in a secret committee - High Level Contact Group - to come up with a proposal covering data protection in all future exchanges of personal data to the USA. To this end they are discussing: Data Protection principles for which common language has been developed (EU document, pdf).

Paul Rosenzweig, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the US DHS said, in November 2007, on the EU requirement that data can only be passed to third states whose laws passed the "adequacy" test guaranteeing equivalent rights:

"The EU should reconsider its decision to apply notions of adequacy to the critical area of law enforcement and public safety. Otherwise the EU runs the very real risk of turning itself into a self-imposed island, isolated from the very allies it needs" (Privacy and Security Law)

He is also opposed to the EU's draft Framework Decision on data protection in police and criminal matters (covering the exchange of personal data within the EU), on this:

"The draft seeks to apply the same tired, failed standards of adequacy that it has applied in its commercial laws." [EC Directive 95/46/EC)

The 1974 US Privacy Law gives no protection to non-US citizens, from the EU or elsewhere.

UK: IRAQ CABINET MINUTES: Decision of the InformationCommissioner on release of minutes and records relating to meetings it held from 7 to 17 March 2003 where the Attorney General’s legal advice concerning military action against Iraq was considered and discussed (pdf)

UK-ID CARDS: Government "re-think" makes little difference to ID for all: Plan for ID cards announced (Home Office release, pdf) Home Secretary's speech (pdf) Although the words "enjoy", "benefit" and "voluntary" figure from 2011 everyone getting a new passport will "automatically be registered for ID cards when they apply for new biometric passports containing fingerprints", a person can then "choose" whether to have just a passport or a passport and an ID card. But wait a minute, if you choose to have just a passport which is then demanded by business and state to establish your identity its the same as having an ID card. First the government intends to target foreign nationals, workers in "high risk" jobs and students. As Liberty asks: Is Government’s ID card roll out first step toward compulsion? See too: No2ID website

UK: Liberty report: Overlooked: Surveillance and personal privacy in modern Britain (pdf)

Council of Europe: Access to Information Convention: Seven Key Problems Remain in the Draft European Convention on Access to Official Documents (pdf)

EU: COMITOLOGY: European Parliament draft Recommendations on implementing measures (pdf) An important issue on a seemingly obscure area of EU decision-making.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"EU decision-making does not finish with the formal adoption of a legislative measure, the detailed implementation is decided in secretive comitology committees of member state representatives and the Commission - for example, the discussion over the age at which children should be fingerprinted for passports and travel documents.

The European Parliament is right to insist that all documents should be made public as soon as they are put on the table and that they should be accessible on a public register. Otherwise there will be no public access until after measures have been adopted which is quite unacceptable in a democracy"

EU-USA: Status of ratification of EU-US Agreements of 25 June 2003 on extradition and mutual legal assistance and of bilateral instruments (21 February 2008, pdf)

UK: 11 MILLION - CHILDRENS' COMMISSIONER REPORT: Claiming asylum at a Screening Unit as an unaccompanied child (pdf):

"The oppressive nature of large parts of the asylum screening process makes it difficult for children to give a full and accurate account of themselves. This may have implications for the decision made on their asylum claim."

EU-BORDERS: EUROPEAN DATA PROTECTION SUPERVISOR: Border Management (press release, pdf) EDPS issues first comments on EU border management package (7 pages, pdf) Peter Hustinx, EDPS, says:

"It is crucial that the impact on the privacy rights of individuals crossing the EU borders is adequately taken into account. A lack of data protection safeguards would not only mean that the individuals concerned might suffer unduly from the proposed measures, but also that the measures will be less effective, or even counter productive, by diminishing public trust in government action."

The EDPS comments cover:

- piling up of legislative proposals in the area...making it difficult for stakeholders to have a comprehensive overview;
- heavy reliance on biometric data;
- lack of evidence supporting the need for new data systems;
- lack of evaluation of existing systems.

EU: EUROJUST Annual Report 2007 (pdf)

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT-CIA: Follow up to the investigations of CIA illegal activities in Europe (pdf)


 

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