A European Parliament report on state surveillance says current programmes are “incompatible” with the human rights of EU residents and all state surveillance must be framed “in terms of collective freedoms and democracy,” rather than “data protection and national security.”
The study, which was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, says:
From a legal point of view, EU surveillance programmes are incompatible with minimum democratic rule of law standards and compromise the security and fundamental human rights of citizens and residents in the EU.
The study also makes it clear that the PRISM revelations are markedly different from past security service “transgressions,” as they involve “access to a much larger scale of data” than former programmes.
The authors go further to say the “purpose and scale” of any surveillance programme is “at the core of what differentiates democratic regimes and police states.” It adds the “two key issues” that remain unclear over the PRISM revelations are: “what/who are the ultimate targets of this surveillance exercise, and how are data collected, processed, filtered and analysed?”
The paper mainly focuses on the US’ ability to compromise the privacy of EU citizens, while highlighting the UK’s complicity. Interestingly the authors say very little about the EU’s own mass surveillance programme, namely the EU Data Retention Directive, which mandates that all European ISPs hold onto customer web logs, and other data, for the entirety of the subscription and up to two years after they leave the service.
Obviously, we expect very little to change regarding the European Union’s reaction to the NSA’s revelations. The report’s suggestion of a new international treaty, in order to protect the world from the US’ security agencies, is unlikely to materialise. So far, apart from Angela Merkel impotent noise over the US’ monitoring of phone calls, the EU has been useless in terms of doing its job and protecting citizens from foreign spy agencies.