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The Shape of Things to Come – EU Future Group:
Observatory on the EU Future Group:
1. EU-USA: ESTA (Electronic System of Travel Authorisation) exchange of letters
1. EU-USA: Exchange of letters show that the USA wants an agreement with the EU signed in December 2008 on the US ESTA (Electronic System of Travel Authorisation) system while the US side fails to answer detailed questions on privacy and protection. EU Commissioner Barrot wrote to Michael Chertoff, Head of US Homeland Security on 8 September 2008: Full-text of letter to Chertoff: www.statewatch.org/news/2008/sep/eu-usa-esta-barrot-chertoff.pdf
This says that the EU wrote to the US on 4 August but that the reply of 29 August “fails to answer any of the specific questions we asked”. The reply from Chertoff, on 15 September 2008: Full text of Chertoff reply: www.statewatch.org/news/2008/sep/eu-usa-chertoff-to-barrot.pdf
says that while they are “committed” to privacy:
“the data we gather under US law from those seeking to enter the United States is not subject to negotiation.”
The Chertoff response then refers to the EU-US “High Level Contact Group” on data protection and exchange as providing the solution and the matter should be resolved “in time for our signing an agreement when you come to Washington in December”.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
“This is typical of the EU-US relationship. The US lays down the law and expects the EU to comply and if it does not then – as on visas – the US simply negotiates behind its back with individual Member States. The idea that the High Level Contact Group report could provide privacy and data protection to EU citizens is simply nonsense as the ACLU has observed.”
Letter from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to the European Parliament: Full-text of ACLU letter:
EU-US: Final Report by EU-US High Level Contact Group on information sharing and privacy and personal data protection:
Background: United States Plans New Travel Procedures for 27 Countries (US EU Mission, link):
Known as ESTA (Electronic System of Travel Authorisation). An application to travel to the USA has to be made and authorisation given prior to boarding a plane or boat.
This will apply to the EU countries currently included in the Visa Waiver Programme who are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. In addition, the following are being considered for inclusion at a later date include Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Malta – all of whom have signed MOUs with the USA.
The ESTA form asks about health, any criminal record including those “involving moral turpitude or a violation related to a controlled substance” (whether spent or not under EU law), whether you are seeking “entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities” and whether you have ever been involved in espionage, sabotage or terrorism.
2. EU: MIGREUROP: No to the deportation agreements (link):
Presentation at the World Social Forum on Migrations, Madrid, 11-14 Sept 2008 with the following participants :Migreurop network, AME (Mali), Group 484 (Serbia), Legal Clinic (Bulgaria), HCA/RLAP (Turkey), Halina Niec Human Rights Association (Poland), MRAP (France), AMDH (Morocco), SOMIM (Portugal), Statewatch (UK) plus: No to expulsion agreements:
Access to detention camps (link):
Presentation at the World Social Forum on Migrations, Madrid, 11-14 Sept 2008 with the following participants: Migreurop Network, Kisa (Cyprus), Legal Clinic (Bulgaria), HCA/RLAP (Turkey), Andalusia Acoge (Spain), APDHA (Spain), Cimade (France), SOLIM (Portugal), Fasti (France), Halina Niec Human Rights Association (Poland) plus: Detention centres: Campaign for the right of access: Campaign Kit:
3 SWEDEN: Ahmed Agiza “rendered” by US agents from Sweden – although still in prison in Egypt – to get compensation. Ahmed Agiza, one of the two Egyptians who was “rendered” from Bromma airport by US agents, with the assistance by the Swedish secret service (security police) to Egypt, and there tortured and sentenced to 25 years (later changed to 15 years) prison, is to get approximately 330,000 euro in damages from the Swedish state. He is still in prison, and had demanded 35.000.000 Swedish crowns (about 4.000.000 euro) in damages, but now the Chancellor of Justice has come to an agreement with his lawyer to accept 330.000 euro. Background:
a. Sweden: Expulsions carried out by US agents, men tortured in Egypt:
b. Full-transcript of “The broken promise”, TV4, Monday 17 May 2004: Transcript:
c. Ambassador’s report: Report (in Swedish, 1.32 MB):
4. EU: ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS REGULATION: Outcome of Proceedings: Procedure to be followed for the review of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001:
The Swedish delegation wrote to all the Permanent Representations asking that the proposal be examined by an ad hoc working party set up specifically for that purpose. It pointed out that “as constituted at present the Working Party on Information had neither the expertise nor the time necessary for the examination of the proposal”. Moreover:
“as a general rule it was not appropriate for the same authority both to chair the body responsible for the preparation of a legal act (the Council General Secretariat in the present case) and to implement that act (the Council). “
This was an attempt to shift the lead role in setting the agenda and conducting negotiations from the Council’s permanent General Secretariat to the Council Presidency (ie: a member state government). Though the Antici Group did not agree to set up an ad hoc working party it did take overall control away from the Council General Secretariat – decisions on contacts and consultations would be agreed jointly by the Council Presidency and the Chair of the Working Party on Information and that negotiations with the European Parliament would be conducted by the Chair of COREPER (the Head of the permanent Brussels-based representation of the member state holding the Council Presidency).
Note: The Antici Group (named after its Italian founder) is made up of assistants to the Permanent Representatives and a Commission representative, a member of the Secretary-General’s Private Office and a member of the Council Legal Service. The Group is responsible for deciding on the organisation of Coreper II proceedings. The meeting, which usually takes place on the afternoon before Coreper, is chaired by the Presidency ‘Antici’.
5. Freedom of Information: Updated, final version: Overview of all 86 FOIA Countries by Roger Vleugels:
6. Amnesty International: Security and Human Rights: Counter-Terrorism and the UN (link, pdf):
“counter-terrorism laws, policies and practices have eroded human rights protections as governments claim the security of some can only be achieved by violating the rights of others.”
7. UK-COE: Commissioner Hammarberg releases human rights report on asylum-seekers and immigrants:
Full-text of Memorandum: www.statewatch.org/news/2008/sep/uk-coe-migrants-08.pdf
See: Asylum rules ‘risk human rights’ (BBC link): news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7624395.stm
“Yarl’s Wood detention centre was visited by the commissioner this year. Changes to Britain’s asylum and immigration controls could breach human rights, a European watchdog has warned”
8. Danes face jail for ‘terrorism’ T-shirts (euobserver, link):
9. EU: FINGER-PRINTING CHILDREN: Civil Liberties Committee votes for finger-printing children from the age of 12 and above for EU passports (EP press release):
and Press release from Sarah Ludford MEP (ALDE):
MEPs reject fingerprinting of 6 year olds (pdf). This decision puts the European Parliament on a collision course with the Council (27 governments) who want the age to be six years old and above (some governments want it lower still) – the measure is subject to co-decision. Six years old was accepted by the Civil Liberties Committee rapporteur but rejected by the Committee. If accepted by the EP plenary session this would put the age of finger-printing children the same for EU passports and for EU visas. Background: The fingerprinting of children for inclusion on the Eurodac database (asylum applicants) is set at 14 years old.
Statewatch first raised this issue to public attention in July 2006: EU states will be free to fingerprint children from day one of their life as soon as it is technologically possible: www.statewatch.org/news/2006/jul/08fingerprinting-children.htm
when Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, commented:
“All the discussions by EU governments in the Council about the age at which children should be subject to compulsory fingerprinting are based on the technological possibilities – not on the moral and political questions of whether it is right or desirable”
and EU: Fingerprinting of children – the debate goes on: www.statewatch.org/news/2006/aug/02eu-fingerprinting-children.htm
10. EU-ECRIS: European Data Protection Supervisor: European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) (Press release and Opinion):
Commission proposal for ECRIS: www.statewatch.org/news/2008/sep/eu-ecris-com-proposal.pdf
Outcome of first discussions in the Council’s Multidisciplinary Group on Organised Crime – yet another instance where law enforcement agents and officials will be deciding on the transfer of personal data: www.statewatch.org/news/2008/sep/eu-ecris-proposal-mdg-outcome.pdf
11. EU: Brussels urged to take ‘closer look’ at NGOs (euactiv, link):
Commission Vice President Siim Kallas told a public hearing on the issue in the European Parliament that: “Less than 20% of the 334 bodies included in the register so far are NGOs. “It puzzles me that some NGOs have not yet registered, and even ones funded by the Commission have not disclosed their funding sources,” Kallas said.” Proposed rules for lobbyists:
The proposed “Rules” include an obligation to:
“ensure that, to the best of their knowledge, information which they provide is unbiased, complete, up-to-date and not misleading”
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments: “What does “unbiased” mean? Is a Commission press release “biased” because it presents its point of view? Or is any point of view that disagrees with it biased?”
12. EU-ECJ: Mandatory data retention challenge: European civil liberties groups lodge objection to the EU’s Data Retention Directive with the European Court of Justice: (Full-text of submission to the ECJ): www.statewatch.org/news/2008/sep/eu-datret-ecj-brief.pdf
saying that the Directive breaches a fundamental right to privacy in the European Convention on Human Rights. 43 civil liberties groups from across the EU including Statewatch have submitted an intervention supporting Ireland’s case to have the Directive repealed.
13. EU opens migration centre in Mali: “Outpost watchtower of Fortress Europe” (link):
“Next October 6th, the European Union (EU) will open a Centre for Migration in Bamako, the capital of Mali. Refugee organizations strongly criticise this “Centre d’Information et de Gestion de Migrations” (Cigem) even before it has become fully operational. They call it an “outpost watchtower of Fortress Europe”. “
14. German Institute for Human Rights: Human Rights at the EU’s common external maritime border: Recommendations to the EU legislature:
“A usual summer in the Mediterranean: thousands of deaths and cases of refoulement. Thousands of migrants ? some only looking for a better life in Europe, some in need of international protection ? leave the North and West African coasts.”
15. EU: SPECIAL STATEWATCH REPORT: The Shape of Things to Come by Tony Bunyan:
The EU is currently developing a new five year strategy for justice and home affairs and security policy for 2009-2014. The proposals set out by the shadowy “Future Group” set up by the Council of the European Union include a range of highly controversial measures including new technologies of surveillance, enhanced cooperation with the United States and harnessing the “digital tsunami”. In the words of the EU Council presidency:
“Every object the individual uses, every transaction they make and almost everywhere they go will create a detailed digital record. This will generate a wealth of information for public security organisations, and create huge opportunities for more effective and productive public security efforts.”
Seven years on from 11 September 2001 and the launch of the “war on terrorism” this major new report The Shape of Things to come (60 pages) examines the proposals of the Future Group and their effect on civil liberties. It shows how European governments and EU policy-makers are pursuing unfettered powers to access and gather masses of personal data on the everyday life of everyone ? on the grounds that we can all be safe and secure from perceived “threats”.
The Statewatch report calls for a “meaningful and wide-ranging debate” before it is “too late” for privacy and civil liberties. The report also contains four Case Studies: 1) the “digital tsunami” and the surveillance state; 2) The “convergence principle”; 3) Privacy and data protection; 4) EU-US area of cooperation.
16. ITALY: European Commission Standpoint Fails to Address Discriminatory Nature of Fingerprinting in Italy: two leading human rights groups asked the European Commission (press release): www.statewatch.org/news/2008/sep/italy-roma-osi-prel.pdf
Full-text of letter: www.statewatch.org/news/2008/sep/italy-roma-osi.pdf
Background (link): www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2958
“In a letter to European Commissioner Jacques Barrot, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) expressed concern that the EC was endorsing Italy’s plan to forcibly fingerprint all Roma living in the country. The groups noted that such fingerprinting would be a form of discrimination because it targets people based solely on their ethnicity.”
17. FRANCE: French cabinet row over ‘Big Sister’ database (Daily Telegraph, link):
“An embarrassing row has erupted within the French cabinet over a controversial “Big Sister” database in which the intelligence services will store details on millions of citizens, including their health, social life or sexual orientation” and French revolt over Edvige: Nicolas Sarkozy’s Big Brother spy computer (Times, link):
18. ITALY: Italian minister pays homage to fascist troops (Guardian, link):
“Italy’s defence minister yesterday paid tribute to fascist soldiers who fought in Italy alongside German troops during the second world war, inflaming a row prompted on Sunday when Rome’s mayor refused to condemn fascism as evil.”
19. EU: French Council Presidency: Latest draft: European Pact on Immigration and Asylum (3 September, 2008):
20. UK: Our obsession with crime is crushing our freedoms by Henry Porter (Observer, link):
21. France/Romania: Ratification of agreement to increase repatriations of unaccompanied minors underway:
22. EU-FOI: European Ombudsman Open Letter to Commissioner Wallstrom (European Voice) on access to EU documents:
”You defend the Commission’s new definition of “document” by explaining that documents drawn up by the institutions are documents as soon as they have been sent to their recipients or otherwise registered. But in fact, the Commission’s proposal does not say “sent to their recipients”, but “formally transmitted to one or more recipients” (my emphasis).”
See for full background and documentation: EU-FOI: Statewatch’s: Observatory on access to EU documents: 2008 – 2009:
23. UK: Pressure to deport foreign national prisoners by Frances Webber (IRR, link):
As the drive to deport foreign criminals goes on, Frances Webber, a leading human rights lawyer, reports on new legislation affecting foreign national prisoners and their families.
24. Statewatch analysis: EU implementation of UN Security Council’s ‘terrorist list’ breaches fundamental rights – Kadi and Al Barakaat Foundation asset-freeze unlawful:
In a judgment with far-reaching implications the European Court of Justice has today [3 September 2008] annulled the Council Regulation freezing the assets of Yassin Abdullah Kadi, a resident of Saudi Arabia, and the Al Barakaat International Foundation of Sweden, part of the ‘Hawala’ banking system used by the Somali Diaspora to transfer funds internationally.
Background: Observatory on “Terrorist” Lists: monitoring, proscription, designation and asset-freezing:
25. Switzerland: Parliament approves use of Tasers in deportations In March, the Swiss parliament approved the use by police of Taser stun guns when forcibly deporting foreigners from the country: www.statewatch.org/news/2008/sep/03switzerland-tasers.htm
26. Spain: Illegal database held by local police in Sada (Galicia):
27. European Parliament: Commission proposal for a Directive on: Universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks, Directive 2002/58/EC concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector:
Draft report from the EP Internal Market Committee:
Opinion of the Civil Liberties Committee (pdf)
Comments by the European Data Protection Supervisor:
The European Data Protection Supervisor raise the question of whether Internet Protocol addresses (”IP”) are personal data as the Data Protection Directive and the Privacy Directive apply whenever personal data are processed:
“If IP addresses are not deemed personal data, they can be collected and further processed without the need to fulfil any legal obligation arising from the two above mentioned Directives. For example, such an outcome would enable a search engine to store for an indefinite period, IP addresses assigned to accounts from which, for example, materials related to specific health conditions (eg: AIDS) have been searched.”
28. EU: Red Cross-EU Office: European Commission Policy Plan on Asylum: Opinion of the National Red Cross Societies of the Member States of the European Union and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies:
29. EU: JUSTICE & HOME AFFAIRS COUNCIL, Brussels, 25 September 2008: Background Note (French, pdf)
30. ITALY-EU: Italy risks legal battle over expulsion of EU citizens (euobserver, link):
“The Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi risks a legal battle with the European Commission over the rules on the automatic expulsion of EU citizens, a part of the so-called security package introduced by Rome earlier this year.”
EU commissioner Jacques Barrot, in charge of home affairs and justice, stated on Tuesday (23 September) that the controversial piece of law “poses problems of compatibility with community law”. Roma people protesting against fingerprinting, which is part of the new Italian security package. If it is not changed shortly, he warned, the commission “would launch infringement proceedings as provided for by the [EU] treaty”.
See also: Italy sends troops into Camorra’s heartland after mafia killings of migrants (Guardian, link):
31. EU: European Parliament: Combatting terrorism/Protection of personal data: MEPs underline freedom of expression (Press release):
Resolution on the Council Framework Decision amending Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism:
Resolution on the draft Council Framework Decision on the protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters:
See:EU makes headway on anti-terror law (euractiv, link):
By a massive majority, with 600 MEPs in favour and only 21 against plus 39 abstentions the parliament voted to replace “public provocation” by “public incitement in the proposal to amend the definition of “terrorism” as this had a clear legal meaning. They also voted overwhelmingly, 556 in favour to 90 against and 19 abstentions, to reiterate – for the third time – substantial amendments to the proposed Framework Decision on the transfer of personal data in police and judicial matters.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
“The European Parliament are to be congratulated on the clear stand they have taken on the definition of terrorism and data protection.
Unfortunately they are only being “consulted” and the Council [EU governments] can simply ignore their views and those of national parliaments, data protection authorities and civil society. These two measures, like hundreds of others adopted since 1993, will form part of EU law yet they will lack true democratic input and hence any legitimacy.”