Spies ‘R’ Us
Statewatch News Online, 23 November 2005 (40/05)
Statewatch News Online, 23 November 2005 (40/05)
1. EU: Biometric EI ID Cards to be introduced by the back door
1. EU: BIOMETRIC EU ID CARDS TO BE INTRODUCED “BY THE BACK DOOR” (EU doc no: 14351/05):
The UK Council Presidency set up an “ad-hoc group of experts” which has drawn up a set of “Conclusions” to be adopted at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 1-2 December. “Conclusions” are “soft-law”, non-binding, and not subject to any national or European parliamentary scrutiny. Thus working on an “intergovernmental basis” it will be agreed that face and fingerprint biometric will be taken and incorporated in a radio frequency chip, and that the standards agreed for EU passports will “apply without modification”. “Minimum standards” say that applicants have to “appear in person” and their identity verified against “existing databases”. Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
“This is no way to bring in such a far-reaching policy, one which will affect millions of people. It is particularly objectionable that the Council are using a ‘”proper” EC committee to draw up the text of these Conclusions, without being accountable under the normal rules for these committees and exceeding the committee’s powers as set out in legislation.
This method of decision-making (soft-law) is becoming all to common, it was also used to develop the technical requirements (scope and function) for VIS and SIS II. By-passing national and European parliamentary scrutiny, let alone civil society, has no place in a democracy”
2. EU: Opinion of the Advocate-General on the European Parliament’s case on EU-US PNR before the Court of Justice:
Press release (pdf): www.statewatch.org/news/2005/nov/eu-us-pnr-ecj-ag.pdf
Commentary: Advocate general backs Parliament challenge on passenger records (euractiv, link):
3. Russia: UK Human rights lawyer deported
On 15 November Professor Bill Bowring was refused entry and sent back to London without any explanation. He had visited Russia many times before and on this occasion was going to observe the trial of a journalist. Bill Bowring is Academic Coordinator of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) which takes cases to the European Court of Human Rights.
Letter to the Russian Ambassador from the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales to Russian Embassy:
Letter from the UK embassy in Moscow:
4. UK: Health on-line: public attitudes to data sharing in the Scottish NHS by the Scottish Consumer Council. Interesting report as most people do not realise that a national NHS database is being set up containing all patient’s personal records. It is being created on the basis that people have to “opt-out” (presuming they know what is happening) rather than positive consent by “opting-in”:
5. UK: Submission on Parliamentary supervision of terrorism legislation from Dr Chris Pounder (Editor of Data Protection and Privacy Practice) to the Home Affairs Select Committee: www.statewatch.org/news/2005/nov/hasc-evid-c-pounder.pdf
6. EU: Transparency in the Council of the European Union: following the Special Report from the European Ombudsman the Council Presidency has put forward an “Options” Note: Transparency in the Council Option 1 would require changes in the Council’s Rules of Procedure while Option 2 would simply tinker within the existing Rules. The accompanying Summary is misleading as it suggests that it is the norm for all preparatory documents to be released when a legal act is adopted – in fact great swathes of documents are refused under the exceptions (Art 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4. and 4.5 of Regulation 1049/01):
See also: European Ombudsman finds Council has given no valid reasons for continuing to legislate behind closed doors: Special Report:
7. EU: European Ombudsman issues critical report against the Council of the European Union which tried to hide documents from applicant:
Press release: www.statewatch.org/news/2005/nov/eu-ombuds-defence-docs.pdf
Having first denied the existence of more documents than admitted the Council claimed that due to a “clerical error” ten other documents not been located.
8. EU: EU governments to write to US (euobserver, link) on CIA “rendition” flights in and over EU countries:
Malta (link): 188.8.131.52/ind/news.asp?newsitemid=24604
9. EU: MANDATORY DATA RETENTION – the shifting sands of “compromises” reached out of public view:
See for full background and documentation: Statewatch’s Observatory on the surveillance of telecommunications in the EU:
European Parliament rapporteurs agree list of “compromise” amendments:
This has been whittled down from the: Full list of amendments (167 pages):
The parliament’s new list of amendments were the basis for a “trilogue” (closed meeting between rapporteurs, Council and Commission) on 15 November. If a common set of “compromise” amendments can be agreed between the parliament and the Council they will be “fast-tracked” through to the plenary session on 14-15 December for adoption.
Meanwhile the UK Select Committee on European Scrutiny in the House of Commons put out a Report on 8 November:
This says that the proposal is still under scrutiny awaiting further information from the Home Office Minister. It notes: “No date set” for the proposal to be discussed in Council. In Brussels the UK Presidency of the Council hopes to get agreement before the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 1-2 December and for the measure to be adopted before Christmas. How national parliaments are meant to keep under meaningful scrutiny a proposal whose content is changing day by day is a mystery.
10. “The authoritarian within: Reflections on power, knowledge and resistance”, Phil Scraton, Inaugural Professorial Lecture, Queen’s University, Belfast, 9 June 2005:
11. Netherlands: Local political activist shot dead in Nijmegen:
12. EU: Council Conclusions on Migration and External Relations:
13. UK: ID cards: Report from the House of Commons Select Committee on Delegated Powers concludes that the powers being sought are “inappropriate”:
See commentary on Out-law (link):
14. UK: Terrorism Bill – as amended – 9 November 2005 (after government defeat on period of detention):
15. European Civil Liberties Network (ECLN): www.ecln.org