Round-up of news stories from across the EU 11.1.15

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EU: Let there be light (New Europe, link): "We return to a dossier of an organization that received EU funding and was audited. Somehow, the audit disappeared (well, was closed by the European Commission). Nevertheless the audit paperwork, did not disappear. For today, we spare you the details of the case.


We bring forward to you two pages of the audit report that we received from the Commission following a request through Regulation 1049/2001. The document we were provided with, appears to the right. This is the first of the two pages, both of which were equally black."

EU: Poland invites German ambassador for talks on politicians' 'anti-Polish remarks' (Deutsche Welle, link): "Warsaw has requested the German ambassador come to the foreign ministry for a meeting on Monday. The move comes after Poland's justice minister dismissed EU backlash over what critics call a crackdown on press freedom. "

EU: Promote the multidisciplinary approach in addressing migrant smuggling (The Netherlands EU Presidency 2016, link): "Experts on migrant smuggling from all 28 EU member states meet at this conference to share their knowledge and experience. The focus is on the benefits of multidisciplinary cooperation to counter migrant smuggling. The Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice is organising the conference in collaboration with the European Migration Network."

EU-SLOVENIA: Interior minister says systematic border control tough task (STA, link): "Maribor, 9 January - Interior Minister Vesna Györkös Žnidar has told the daily Vecer that a potential introduction of systematic control on the external borders of the Schengen zone, with EU citizens also being under stricter scrutiny, would represent a tough logistic task for the Slovenian police."

Fiction: Breaking Unbreakable Encryption (Monday Note, link): "As discussed in a recent Monday Note titled Let’s Outlaw Math, electronic messages that are encoded with modern encryption techniques are truly indecipherable by interlopers, it doesn’t matter whether they’re criminals or governments. The latter have attempted to legislate backdoors that only they can use (to protect us, of course), but there’s a danger: These “golden keys” could fall into the wrong hands. In any case, a backdoor only works where it’s been installed; unbreakable public domain encryption is available to everyone, terrorists and traffickers included.

So… Case closed, good guys and bad guys alike can “safely” use unbreakable codes?

Not so fast."

FRANCE: Paris assailant had seven identities but is yet unknown (New Europe, link): "The lone assailant who attacked a police station in Paris with a butcher’s knife in Barbès neighborhood on Thursday, January 7th had a criminal record. He had arrests for drug dealing, assault, firearm possession, and sexual harassment. But, his identity is yet to be established with confidence."

GERMANY: Papers criticized for ‘racist’ Cologne covers (The Local, link): " Two of Germany’s leading news publications have been heavily criticized for using imagery described as ‘disgustingly sexist and racist' to portray the Cologne sexual assaults."

GERMANY: Racist attacks ratchet up tension in Cologne (The Local, link): " A mob of men attacked a group of Pakistanis in the Cologne city centre on Sunday evening. A few minutes later a Syrian was also attacked in what appear to be racially motivated attacks.

The group of around 20 men assaulted six Pakistanis in the early evening. Two of the Pakistanis sustained serious injuries and had to be brought to hospital, police report."

Happy All the Time (Lapham's Quarterly, link): "As biometric tracking takes over the modern workplace, the old game of labor surveillance is finding new forms."

IRELAND: Suspects who claim legal aid face having their assets seized (, link): "The Legal Aid Board is to be given CAB-style powers that could see suspects forced to repay legal aid bills footed by the taxpayer.

Radical new proposals by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will also apply to criminals who are planning future appeals against their convictions.

The State spends around €50m a year providing free legal aid, which goes towards the cost of hiring solicitors and barristers, witness expenses and technical and medical reports."

SCOTLAND: Force refuses to let officers be quizzed by Scottish Parliament over RIPA abuse to find journalistic sources (Press Gazzette, link): "Police Scotland has refused to let serving officers answer questions from the Scottish Parliament (pictured, Shutterstock) on why they unlawfully accessed telecoms record to identify journalistic sources.

The force was publicly censured by the Interception of Communications Commissioner in November after it accessed the telecoms records of four individuals to find out if they were journalistic sources."

SPAIN: 70,000 people march in Bilbao in support of Basque prisoners [70.000 personas en la marcha de apoyo a presos en Bilbao] (Digaonal Periodico, link): 70,000 people took to the Streets of Bilbao to call for the end of the policy of dispersion and respect for human rights for some 400 Basque prisoners in 70 prisons across all of the Spanish state, France and Portugal, reports Diagonal Periodico.

UK drone and air strikes in 2015 – a look at the data (Drone Wars UK, link): "Analysing updates published by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of RAF operations in Iraq and Syria give something of an insight into the use of drones and aircraft for strikes by British forces in 2015. The updates do not give a complete picture as some strikes are omitted (for example the targeted killing of Reyaad Khan) and the number of strikes recorded in the reports do not match officially published figures. Nevertheless they do give a broad indication of British air operations against ISIS."

UK: Green peer asks Met chief if he knew about destroyed files on her (The Guardian, link): ""Green party peer Jenny Jones has asked Britain’s most senior police officer to say whether he knew that an intelligence unit that monitors thousands of campaigners had destroyed records it had compiled on her political work.

The call by Lady Jones to the Metropolitan police commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, came after it was revealed on Friday that a whistleblower had alleged the unit destroyed the records in a “highly irregular” cover-up.

The whistleblower, Sgt David Williams, said the unit where he currently works had done so to prevent Jones from discovering the extent of the police’s monitoring of her political activities. The peer is also the deputy chair of the committee that supervises the Met.""

UK: Iraq abuse inquiry firm referred to SDT (Law Gazette, link): "One of two firms investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority for its role in allegations of British army abuses in Iraq revealed today that it had been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. London personal injury and clinical negligence firm Leigh Day said that it 'strongly denies' allegations made by the SRA."

UK: Nearly 300 British veterans face investigation over alleged Iraq war crimes (The Guardian, link): "Nearly 300 British personnel who served in Iraq have been contacted by investigators looking into allegations of war crimes, with some of them facing interrogation on their doorsteps, officials have said."

UK: Taimour Lay on Do It Yourself fresh asylum and human rights claims: video (Free Movement, link): "A DIY approach is difficult in immigration law. Hardly a year goes by without the higher courts complaining about “a degree of complexity which even the Byzantine emperors would have envied” [as lamented by Jackson LJ in 2013]. This is even more of a problem as legal aid is removed from the jurisdiction for everything but international protection and judicial review – and the “Residence Test” may well put paid to the latter."

UK: Tougher sentencing powers needed to deter data thieves, says ICO (The Guardian, link): "The head of the government’s privacy watchdog has called for stronger sentencing powers for people convicted of stealing personal data, after a woman who sold 28,000 pieces of sensitive driver data was fined just £1,000."

USA: Eye in the sky computes your emotions (USA Today, link): "Bill Hedgcock knows it sounds a little creepy.

Tucked into the white ceiling tiles, the ceiling camera he had installed at the Pappajohn Business Building at the University of Iowa scans the faces of all who pass under it and instantly calculates their moods — collecting readings for joy, frustration, confusion, fear, anger and sadness."

USA: The new way police are surveilling you: Calculating your threat ‘score’ (The Washington Post, link): "While officers raced to a recent 911 call about a man threatening his ex-girlfriend, a police operator in headquarters consulted software that scored the suspect’s potential for violence the way a bank might run a credit report.

The program scoured billions of data points, including arrest reports, property records, commercial databases, deep Web searches and the man’s social- media postings. It calculated his threat level as the highest of three color-coded scores: a bright red warning."

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