EU passes resolution condemning US spying

Douglas Crawford

Douglas Crawford

March 14, 2014

On Wednesday the European Parliament passed a new resolution condemning US spying, and calling for Europe to institute ‘democratic, judicial and parliamentary safeguards and oversight in a digital society’. Passed with an overwhelming majority (544 votes to 78, with 60 members abstaining), the resolution was helped by Edward Snowden’s testimony, presented last Friday,

‘I am telling you that without getting out of my chair, I could have read the private communications of any member of this committee, as well as any ordinary citizen.’

The final wording of the resolution still needs to be trashed out, but the European Parliament resolved that;

  • ‘The European Parliament disapproves of mass surveillance of everybody, all the time. Surveillance is reserved for people under concrete suspicion of a crime.
  • The European Parliament desires to suspend negotiations of the protectionist agreement TTIP until the United States issues credible guarantees of respecting fundamental citizen rights of European people. More specifically, it declares that it will vote to kill such an agreement (“withhold consent”) unless these conditions are met.
  • The Europarl decides it wants to terminate the Safe Harbor agreement about transfer of European personal data, when such data is transferred to U.S. corporations, under the condition of proper protection and safeguards of such data. (It’s become increasingly apparent that U.S. corporations completely ignore the obligations of said agreement.)
  • The so-called Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme, also known as the SWIFT agreement, which transfers data on bank transactions to the United States, is to be suspended immediately.
  • Calls for a European program to protect whistleblowers
  • More European IT solutions, located in European jurisdictions, to protect European sensitive data from the spying of United States. (This ties well in to Chancellor Merkel’s calls for a European-only storage cloud, designed specifically for data to not become available to the NSA.)
  • Named countries are strongly criticized for the way they conduct mass surveillance and violate civil liberties: United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden.’*

The provisions are designed to replace the existing confusing mix of privacy rules across the EU’s 28 member states, providing a unified body of law that will clarify the rights and responsibilities of businesses and individuals.

Unfortunately, although the bill calls for greater protection for whistle-blowers, and despite his testimony helping the resolution to pass, the amendment promising EU asylum for Edward Snowden has been dropped.

The resolution is non-binding, but it hoped that it will put pressure on member states to improve their surveillance laws.

*source It is thought the text will be largely unchanged from an earlier draft

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