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January 8, 2014

European Parliament, Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

Motion For A European Parliament Resolution
The European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee released the findings of its mass surveillance investigation in a 52-page report far more extensive than any other inquiry conducted elsewhere, including the US.  The six-month investigation was headed by MEP Claude Moraes.  A diverse group of witnesses testified at 15 hearings and the committee voted 36-2 in favor of inviting Edward Snowden to speak.  The Parliament said he may do so via video link or with a recorded statement but details haven’t been announced yet.

Gen. Keith Alexander declined to appear. Representatives from Yahoo and Amazon also declined.

The committee is expected to approve the draft report as soon as January 23 so that it can proceed to the full Parliament for a vote on whether to adopt any or all of the seven measures that make up “A European Digital Habeus Corpus for Protecting Privacy.”

Some of the report’s 116 main findings will sound familiar to people who followed the mass surveillance revelations that came out last year.  There are some new revelations, too, about the framework of agreements that gave the NSA access to European data sources.  The extent of US non-cooperation with the investigation hasn’t been reported in the American free-press.  The whole report is worth a read. Here’s a sample of the findings and recommendations that led to the conclusion in favor of stronger protection for civil liberties:

  • “Calls on the US authorities and the EU Member States to prohibit blanket mass surveillance activities and bulk processing of personal data;” (#19 - p. 19/52)
  • “Calls on certain EU Member States, including the UK, Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands, to revise where necessary their national legislation and practices governing the activities of intelligence services so as to ensure that they are in line with the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights and comply with their fundamental rights obligations as regards data protection, privacy and presumption of innocence;” (#20- p. 19/52)
  • “Calls on the US to revise its legislation without delay in order to bring it into line with international law, to recognize the privacy and other rights of EU citizens, to provide for judicial redress for EU citizens.” (#25- p. 20/52)
  • ‘Calls . . .  for the immediate suspension of  . . . the Safe Harbour privacy principles, and of the related FAQs issued by the US Department of Commerce;” (#31- p. 21/52)
  • “Strongly emphasizes . . . that the European Parliament will only consent to the final TTIP agreement provided the agreement fully respects fundamental rights recognized by the EU Charter.” (#59 - p.24/52)
  • “Asks the Commission for the suspension of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) Agreement;” (#45 - p.23/52)
  • “Calls for the overall architecture of the internet in terms of data flows and storage to be reconsidered . . . . avoiding unnecessary routing of traffic through . . .  countries that do not meet basic standards on fundamental rights, data protection and privacy; (#93 - p.30/52)
  • “Numerous concerns within the EU as to:
  • The extent of the surveillance systems revealed both in the US and in EU Member States;
  • The degree of cooperation and involvement of certain EU Member States with US surveillance programs;
  • The degree of control and effective oversight by the US political authorities and certain EU Member States over their intelligence communities;
  • the possibility of these mass surveillance operations being used for reasons other than national security and the strict fight against terrorism, for example economic and industrial espionage or profiling on political grounds;
  • The increasingly blurred boundaries between law enforcement and intelligence activities, leading to every citizen being treated as a suspect;
  • The threats to privacy in a digital era;” (D. - p.7, 8/52)

Claude Moraes website

The US is advancing toward something that the Civil Liberties Commission calls “The Preventive State.”

It “sees the surveillance programs as yet another step towards the establishment of a fully fledged preventive state, changing the established paradigm of criminal law in democratic societies, promoting instead a mix of law enforcement and intelligence activities with blurred legal safeguards, often not in line with democratic checks and balances and fundamental rights, especially the presumption of innocence;.”(#10 - p. 17/52)
In the US, the majority of the population is unprepared to accept that everything they once believed was true is being mightily swept away.  

There are no political leaders today at any level who have what it takes to explain the gravity of the situation to the public and begin a democratic process of reform.  Instead, Americans have the disgraceful spectacle of Dianne Feinstein who stopped the show when she thought she had a point to make yesterday on Meet the Press.

Feinstein’s office should be flooded with calls for what she accomplished there, making a fool of the viewing audience, her supporters, and herself all at the same time.  

 [Phone: (202) 224-3841 or Fax: (202) 228-3954]  

So it’s up to the likes of David Gregory to explain that businesses collect information from their customers who make a free-will decision to give it to them, if needed, for a transaction. Government grabs data in secret, illegally, without the courtesy of asking if they can have it. They just take it. If Feinstein can’t understand the distinction she's dangerous as Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Call Reid, too. He needs to pull her off that assignment.

[Phone:  202-224-3542 or Fax:  202-224-7327]

Feinstein also needs to be reminded that anyone can make malicious claims about anybody at any time. That’s why our judicial system adheres to the burden of proof.  

That show was a typical example of how politicians and the media limit discussion about mass surveillance just by making senseless noise.  It prevents anyone from ever hearing about anything incisive.  That leaves the public on their own to assess the risk to their civil liberties when they perceive no danger in front of them.  They come up with the one conclusion that works best for the Preventive State:

”Spy on me as much as you want because I have nothing to hide.”  

There’s only one appropriate response. Politely refuse the invitation. Don't go down that rabbit hole.  

Obama’s speech last Friday got very mixed reviews in Europe.  Claude Moraes issued a polite reaction that doesn’t back down at all from his draft resolution. The US and the technology companies that functioned as NSA collaborators have a lot to lose. The EU has leverage, particularly if Snowden testifies.

He’s not compromising the security of the US.  The NSA is compromising the security of the US, and the label it wears draws attention to the contradiction. It’s our right as Americans to know what the NSA is up to.  Especially when there are concerns about the degree of control by US political authorities over it.

What if the degree of control is very little?

Originally posted to researchandanalyze on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 08:03 AM PST.

Also republished by Progressive Policy Zone.

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