A European Parliament study on state surveillance has concluded that surveillance programmes must be framed “in terms of collective freedoms and democracy” and current programmes are “incompatible” with the human rights of EU residents.
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 recent PRISM revelations are markedly different from past security service “transgressions,” as they involve “access to a much larger scale of data” than former programs.
The authors go further to say the “purpose and scale” of any surveillance program is “at the core of what differentiates democratic regimes and police states.” It adds that the “two key issues” that remain unclear over the PRISM revelations is: “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 via mass surveillance of internet services such as Google and Facebook. It also highlights the UK’s complicity in US spying. But interestingly the authors say very little about the EU’s own mass surveillance programmes, 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. So far, apart from some noise from EU leaders over the US’ monitoring of phone calls, the EU has been completely supine in terms of doing its job and protecting its citizens from American spying.