29 October 2021 — Statewatch
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UK: Public-private data processing for “national security”
The UK government is consulting on changes to data protection law that include a proposal to facilitate “joint operational activity between law enforcement and national security partners.” The intention is to eliminate certain legal barriers to collaboration between the police, security and intelligence agencies, and other entities such as private companies. The proposals are part of a bigger programme designed to remove a number of privacy and data protection rights, alongside economic deregulation.
Read more here.
Europol: new ‘big data’ powers on the way
New powers for Europol are on the way following a vote in the European Parliament to enter negotiations with the Council of the EU. The two institutions will now enter secret ‘trilogue’ discussions to agree legislation that will enable closer cooperation with private companies, the processing of vast amounts of personal data using advanced technologies, and stronger ties with law enforcement agencies in non-EU states.
Read more on the vote and critiques of the proposals here.
A new report by the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons examines “the intersections between trafficking by proscribed groups and terrorism, and in particular the continuing failures in terms of identification of and assistance to the victims of trafficking and in terms of the protection of their human rights.”
Two recent documents produced by the European External Action Service, the EU’s foreign policy arm.
Press release published by the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, 25 October 2021.
The UK government is consulting on wide-ranging changes to data protection law that include a proposal to facilitate “joint operational activity between law enforcement and national security partners.”
Europol and Frontex have produced a joint report on the “digitalisation of migrant smuggling”, intended to provide state officials with in the EU and Western Balkans “with a comprehensive intelligence picture on the use of digital tools and services’ [sic] in migrant smuggling and related document fraud, in order to raise awareness, consolidate existing knowledge and enforce opportunities to take appropriate measures to tackle emerging threats.”
In response to a letter from an MEP, EU policing agency Europol has disclosed some of the “data repositories” that it operates, “beyond iBase and Palantir”.
Press release published by KISA on 18 October 2021.
A new report, ‘From Sea to Prison: The Criminalization of Boat Drivers in Italy’, looks at how the Italian state has arrested and imprisoned hundreds of people who have piloted boats towards the shores of the country, “utilizing criminal law, undercover police operations and emergency anti-Mafia powers to re-enforce Europe’s border regime.”
In July, the Slovenian Presidency of the Council sought member states’ views on the role of Frontex in implementing the EU’s Strategy on Voluntary Return and Reintegration. The responses, published here, show that national authorities are keen to boost it.
In a strongly-worded statement, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights has called on member states to halt ongoing pushbacks and to cease any attempt to legalise the practice. The statement comes in response to a call from 12 EU member states that says all external borders “must be protected with maximum level of security” and essentially calls for the legalisation of pushbacks, EU funding for border walls, and measures to respond to “a hybrid attack characterised by an artificially created large scale inflow of irregular migrants”.
A large majority of MEPs have voted to approve a mandate for negotiations with the Council of the EU on expanding the powers of Europol, the EU policing agency, despite serious fundamental rights concerns with the proposals.
Covering COVID-19, “digital”, energy prices, migration, trade and external relations.
A new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Legal Aid presents the findings of an extensive inquiry into the sustainability and recovery of the legal aid sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. A series of cuts and changes to the legal aid sector over the last decade have taken entire areas of law out of the scope of legal aid (leaving individuals to cover their own costs, if they are to bring a case at all) and the report finds that the low rates available for taking on legal aid work make it difficult for solicitors and barristers to continue working on legal aid cases. It calls for substantial investment in and reform of the legal aid system in order to ensure access to justice.
In January 2022 UN member states will start negotiating a new convention on “the use of information technology and communications technologies for criminal purposes.” EU institutions and member states have been working towards defining their position for the first round of talks, which includes a demand that any new agreement be “focused primarily on substantive criminal and criminal procedural law, as well as associated mechanisms for cooperation.”
A note from the Slovenian Presidency outlines some of the issues that have emerged in negotiations with the European Parliament on new rules designed to ease cross-border access to digital data for use in criminal investigations and judicial proceedings.
On 13 October the Council of the EU published its mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on new rules granting Europol influence over alerts in the Schengen Information System (SIS) based on data received from non-EU states. The new “information alerts on third-country nationals in the interest of the Union” are intended to increase the flow of information on non-EU nationals held in the SIS. The European Parliament is due to vote on its own negotiating mandate this week.
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