Friday, 16 September 2022 — Statewatch
(also available as a PDF)
We are back after a break with a bumper issue, including:
- Europe-wide facial recognition system intrusive and unnecessary
- Spanish AI agency should prioritise human rights
- The future of travel: “a future with even more surveillance”
We also have important stories on:
- EU funding for the Egyptian coast guard for “border management”
- Europol being formally admonished for its data protection failings regarding a Dutch activist labelled as a “terrorist”
- the membership Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community
And much more.
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Europe-wide facial recognition system intrusive and unnecessary
The EU is planning to establish a new network of police facial recognition databases and to make cross-border searches of police records possible, as part of a proposal known as ‘Prüm II’. In a position paper published last week, we warn – along with other members of the European Digital Rights network – that the plans are unnecessary and disproportionate. Other elements of the proposals require substantial changes to ensure that rights and liberties are upheld.
These are not the only problems, however: in a separate report, we reveal that the European Commission is planning to award a fresh round of funding to develop the ‘European Police Records Index System’ and put the technology in place before the law. This is not a new issue when it comes to EU surveillance plans, and raises questions about the ways in which public money is distributed for ‘security’ purposes.
You can read the position paper here, our story on the Commission’s funding for the police records system here, and don’t forget to read our report from earlier this year on post-Brexit UK-EU police cooperation, which details how the UK may join an expanded ‘Prüm’ system with no parliamentary scrutiny.
Spanish AI agency should prioritise human rights
The Spanish government recently announced plans to set up a new agency for artificial intelligence, which would have responsibility for governing the use of AI in the country and ensuring the effective implementation of the EU’s forthcoming Artificial Intelligence Act.
In an open letter with 60 other organisations, we are calling on the Spanish authorities to ensure that the agency “exercise prudential supervision, guaranteeing the fairness of algorithmic processes, accountability for their negative and/or discriminatory impact and ensuring transparency,” and to ensure “a public debate about the governance of algorithms that puts respect for human rights and social justice at the centre.”
You can read the letter here.
The future of travel: “a future with even more surveillance”
EU agencies Europol and Frontex have been working behind closed doors to develop plans for a ‘European System for Traveller Screening’, which “would require legislative changes and most likely the use of AI to combine [data] sources effectively,” in the words of a report by the agencies that we published earlier this year.
The plans have now been described by a prominent member of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee as ushering in “a future with even more surveillance.” Although the joint ‘Future Group’ that drew up the plans has now been dissolved, an answer by Europol to a parliamentary question said “the work of the Group constitutes a comprehensive study material for the next decade at least, to propose improvements in relation to the future of Travel Intel and external border management.”
Read more here.
News and analysis
Europol told to hand over personal data to Dutch activist labelled “terrorist” by Dutch police
Spain: New artificial intelligence agency must put “human rights and social justice at the centre”
EU to provide €80 million to Egyptian coast guard
€72 million for EU security and immigration mission in Niger
Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community: participating agencies named
External migration control efforts spawn sub-groups and action plans
EU: “If you build it, the law will come”: bypassing democracy to boost police powers
European police facial recognition system must be halted, warns new paper
UK: Unprecedented coalition calls on MPs to vote against the Rights Removal Bill
Statement on French visa policy: discrimination and injustice
UK-EU: Police cooperation: the Home Office gets it wrong on data protection
EU: Council establishes new working party on defence industry as part of military push
EU: Police plans for the “future of travel” are for “a future with even more surveillance”
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Europol has been admonished by the European Data Protection Supervisor for the second time this year, for failing to comply with a request from a Dutch political activist to access the data held on him by the policing agency. The European Data Protection Supervisor’s investigation found a series of failings by the agency to comply with the law, at a time when its powers to gather and process data have been vastly increased by a recent legal reform.
An open letter signed by 60 organisations from Spain and beyond, including Statewatch, calls on the Spanish government to ensure that civil society groups and independent experts have a say in designing the recently-proposed Spanish Agency for the Supervision of Artificial Intelligence (AESIA). The letter calls for “a clear and a clear and defined civil society participation strategy in the processes and policy development related to Artificial Intelligence,” in order to put “human rights and social justice at the centre.”
EU to provide €80 million to Egyptian coast guard
The European Commission has confirmed that €23 million will be allocated in 2022 and €57 million in 2023 to provide equipment and services to Egyptian authorities for “search and rescue and border surveillance at land and sea borders”.
The Council of the EU is set to authorise a fresh budget of €72 million for the EU’s security and immigration mission in Niger, which is tasked with aiding “Nigerien security actors in the fight against terrorism and organised crime” and the development of “policies, techniques and procedures to effectively control and fight immigration.”
The state agencies participating in the Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community (AFIC) have been named in a response to a European parliamentary question. Thirty African states are currently participating in the AFIC. The response also says that “Risk Analysis Cells”, of which eight have been set up in African states with the assistance of Frontex, are “the backbone” of the AFIC.
Various sub-groups and action plans have emerged from the various ‘migration dialogues’ that have been set up over the last decade, such as the Khartoum Process, the Rabat Process and the Budapest Process. This includes cooperation on operational action. The ‘dialogues’ bring together EU member states along with other European, African, Central Asian and other states. A recent set of presentations given to a Council of the EU working group make no mention of democratic scrutiny or legitimacy.
The European Commission is preparing to award a new round of funding to build a system for cross-border searches of “police records”. A legal proposal currently under negotiation would require the establishment of a European Police Records Index System (EPRIS) involving every member and Schengen state and, later on, potentially the UK. The current funding is part of a long-standing attempt to lay the technical foundations for the system before the law is in place, as has happened with previous EU surveillance schemes.
A new position paper published today by the European Digital Rights (EDRi) network calls for MEPs to oppose plans to create an EU-wide police facial recognition system that may, in the future, also include the UK. The plans are part of the ‘Prüm II’ proposals that instrumentalise one of the fundamental principles of the EU – the free movement of people between states – to legitimise the need for even more policing.
Statewatch, along with 122 other human rights, civil society and community organisations, is calling on MPs to vote against the proposed ‘Bill of Rights’, introduced to replace the Human Rights Act and water down or replace the protections afforded to individuals by the Act. The ‘Bill of Rights’, more widely-known as the Rights Removal Bill, “is unnecessary, unevidenced, unworkable, and unwanted – and it is individuals who will bear the brunt of its harmful effects,” says a new joint briefing, a copy of which has been sent to every MP.
28 organisations from France, Morocco, Tunisia and Belgium yesterday published a statement denouncing France’s refusal of visas to citizens of Maghreb countries “as a sanction because the latter refuse to repatriate their undocumented nationals.” The statement condemns the approach of the French authorities as “a collective, unfair punishment, indiscriminately targeting all Algerians, Moroccans or Tunisians.”
Back in March, members of the House of Lords discussed the state-of-play of police and judicial cooperation between the UK and EU, and were informed by a government minister that such cooperation does not depend on maintaining adequate data protection standards. The text of the relevant UK-EU treaty, however, says otherwise.
On 29 June, member state ambassadors to the EU agreed to create an ‘Ad hoc Working Party on defence industry’. This Working Party will report to the EU Foreign Affairs Council, providing advice on draft legislative acts and other legal acts on issues related to the European defence industrial and technological base (EDTIB) – that is, the military industry at large.
Plans hatched by Europol and Frontex to develop a “European System for Traveller Screening” that would require massive data processing and automated profiling have been condemned as ushering in “a future with even more surveillance” by German left MEP Cornelia Ernst, who told Statewatch that “the daily lives of millions of people” should not be shaped by “agencies that long ceased to be controllable by the public and the parliament.”
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Asylum and immigration
UK: The Rwanda plan and Channel crossings
Guardian, 10 September
Suella Braverman sets Home Office ‘No boats crossing the Channel’ target
“it is practically impossible to halt them as long as the government refuses to offer sufficient alternative safe routes to the UK.”
The Times, 7 September
Suella Braverman ready to detain more Channel migrants
“Allies say the new home secretary views “secure” accommodation for illegal migrants as crucial to tackle the “pull factors” that have led to more than 27,000 migrants crossing the Channel in small boats so far this year.”
The Guardian, 6 September
Suella Braverman: home secretary set to take even harder line on migration
“Critics have wondered whether Braverman might suffer pangs of conscience about sending Afghans and Iranians to Rwanda given that they, like her father, say they are fleeing political turmoil.
“Her previous comments suggest not. Braverman, who has pitched herself to the right of her predecessor, Priti Patel, is expected to move quickly to sideline the European convention on human rights (ECHR) – which was used to stop the attempted deportation flight to Rwanda.”
UK Home Office, 5 September
Independent panel appointed to oversee partnership with Rwanda
“New monitoring committee will provide independent assurance of the UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership.”
The Independent, 3 September
Horrors of self-harm and desperation on failed Rwanda flight revealed by officer testimonies
“The full horrors of the “inhumane” treatment endured by asylum seekers forced onto a failed deportation flight to Rwanda have been laid bare in new testimonies from security officers.”
New Humanitarian, 31 August
When the UK’s cruel asylum policies hit close to home
“Ignoring the reasons why people attempt the dangerous crossing in the first place, UK has responded by doubling down on hardline migration policies aimed at keeping people out”
Law Gazette, 30 August
Rwanda asylum deal not legally binding: Law Society
“The UK ‘asylum partnership’ with Rwanda is not legally binding, has not been scrutinised by parliament and does not protect the rights of asylum-seekers”, the Law Society told the House of Lords about the MoU for a UK-Rwanda asylum arrangement.
The Observer, 28 August
There are lies, damn lies, and then there is Home Office propaganda about migrants
“The claim that Albanians don’t need asylum because they come from a “safe” country is also belied by the data. 53% of Albanian claimants had been granted asylum”
UK Home Office, 25 August
UK and Albania pledge rapid removal of those entering the UK illegally
“Albanian government has also offered senior law enforcement support to provide UK authorities with vital intelligence and to support processing”
The situation in Greece
“A recent incident with asylum-seekers on the Greek-Turkish border raises questions about authorities’ use of EU-funded surveillance tech for search-and-rescue missions. A DW investigation funded by the Pulitzer Center.”
EurActiv, 6 September
Greece plans to extend fence on land border with Turkey
“Greece plans to extend a cement and barbed-wire fence along its northern border with Turkey to prevent migrants from entering the country, its citizen protection minister said on Tuesday.”
Aegean Boat Report, 4 September
Never before have so many people been pushed back in the Aegean Sea
“On average, 100 people have been found drifting, in life rafts and rubber boats, every single day in August, as a result of pushbacks performed by Greek authorities.”
Guardian, 1 September
‘Speak out against pushbacks, you’re an enemy of Greece,’ says refugee hero
“In 2021, he was notified he would be awarded a medal by the Greek president” – the award was cancelled in late night phone call under pressure from government
Der Spiegel, 1 September
Greece’s Slide Toward Authoritarianism
“Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis poses as a reformer. But his leadership methods are more reminiscent of an autocracy. It is time for the EU to do something about it.”
Umpteenth horrifying report of a pushback in Greece, but in this case it has led to a legal complaint.
Guardian, 31 August
Greece should face more checks over asylum seeker treatment – EU official
“It has been clear to me that Greece is one of the countries that needs enhanced monitoring,” Jonas Grimheden told the Guardian, “what is missing…, is increasing the pressure” and “the concreteness of what I think should be done to prevent violations.”
Greece Council for Refugees, 28 August
37 CSOs call for action to safeguard the rights of LGBTQI+ asylum seekers in Greece
“With a joint letter to the Secretary General for Migration Policy and the Secretary General for Reception of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum on 28 August, 37 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) stress the concerning gaps with respect to the protection of LGBTQI+ asylum seekers in Greece and call for action to protect their rights. You can read the full letter here.”
Schengen Visa Info, 13 September
Italian Consulate in Morocco Suspends Family Reunification Appointments
“It was explained that such a decision had been taken in order to make technical changes to the platform. The changes have been seen as necessary to combat illegal practices.”
The Spanish parliament has voted down a motion calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the 23 deaths (according to the official figure) and over 60 injuries caused by a Spanish-Moroccan police operation during an attempted border crossing at the end of June.
Schengen Visa Info, 13 September
Denmark & Rwanda Sign Declaration on Possible Transfer of Asylum Seekers
“under this deal, around 1000 asylum seekers may be sent to Rwanda each year”
“in August, Denmark decided to take in 200 refugees who were in Rwanda under the refugee quota of 2022”
Alarm Phone, 11 September
Press release by Association des Mères de Migrants Disparus
“We, as the Association des Mères de Migrants Disparus (Mothers of Disappeared Migrants) and on behalf of the mothers and sisters of the disappeared, denounce the statement of the head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which we consider shameful and damaging to the dignity, despising their feeling of distress after the loss of their children, some of whom have not seen their sons for more than 20 years and do not know if they are alive or dead.”
Guardian, 11 September
Mexican rebels donate museum money for canoes to refugee rescues
“…proceeds from the sale of the small boats could help save some of the tens of thousands of men, women and children who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean each year”
Alarm Phone, 9 September
Joint Statement calling for the dismissal of UNHCR’s special envoy Vincent Cochetel
“Blaming mourning mothers, some of whom have searched for answers for over a decade, and even calling for their criminalisation through ‘symbolic prosecution’ is simply outrageous. In this joint statement, we want to denounce Mr Cochetel’s words in the strongest of terms.”
“The law, significantly called the “Valletta” law by some members of Nigerian civil society, is one of the main instruments to combat the transit of migrants in the country. Its implementation has resulted in the multiplication of violations of freedom of movement in the ECOWAS area over the past six years and has exposed people in transit to violence, abuse and torture.
“Now the ECOWAS Court of Justice is called to analyze its legitimacy.”
EUobserver, 7 September
EU mulls ‘specialised teams’ to counter migration abroad
“The EU is exploring ways to further crack down on irregular migration at its overseas missions, including the use of “specialised teams”.
“Such missions are part of the EU’s so-called Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) currently found in places like Niger, Libya, Mali, Somali, Iraq and elsewhere.”
The Civil Fleet, 7 September
Four-year-old girl dies after Greece and Malta failed to launch rescue three days after activists raised the alarm
“THE Greek and Maltese maritime authorities were blamed for the death of a four-year-old girl who died today — three days after activists alerted them to her boat in distress.”
InfoMigrants, 6 September
Germany criticized over forced returns to crisis-hit Pakistan
“A deportation flight took off from Munich on Tuesday (September 6), bound for the Pakistani capital Islamabad. The Bavarian Refugee Council, Abschiebungsreporting NRW — a project for the documentation of deportations — and Hum Hain Pakistan called it an example of “humanitarian bankruptcy.””
EU Asylum Agency, 6 September
EUAA deploys to Bulgaria as over 530,000 Ukrainians enter the country
“Today the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) activated its 12th ongoing operation, together with the Republic of Bulgaria. The signing of the Operating Plan comes as over 130,000 of those who have fled the invasion of Ukraine have already registered for temporary protection while the number of asylum applications has tripled.”
European Commission, 6 September
Commission proposes full suspension of Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia
“The suspension is in response to increased risks and threats to the Union’s security interests and the national security of the Member States as result of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine. This means that Russian citizens will no longer enjoy privileged access to the EU and face a lengthier, more expensive and more difficult visa application process.”
InfoMigrants, 6 September
UNHCR chief calls naval blockades and pushbacks ‘racism’
“UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi at an event in Italy said that “restrictive legislation, barbed wire, naval blockades, and pushbacks” are “racism”. He stressed the legal and moral duty to welcome refugees and warned of a certain form of “false nationalism”.”
Verfassungsblog, 5 September
An ‘Impossible Trinity’? Frontex, EU External Borders and the Rule of Law
“Against the background of the well-substantiated allegations of significant gaps between the legal obligations of the Agency and its work in practice, along with the undeniable evidence of systematic and widespread violence at the external borders of the EU, there is ample evidence that the respect of the rule of law at the EU external borders is jeopardised.”
The New Arab, 5 September
Lebanese officials urge European states to help stranded ship in the Mediterranean sea
“”We appeal to Italy … to take the initiative to rescue 70 Lebanese migrants stuck in their primitive and broken boat off the Maltese and Italian coasts,” Lebanese MP Ashraf Rifi said on Sunday.”
Free Movement, 1 September
UK: The end of legal aid
“Our anonymous contributor considers the non-availability of legal aid in the context of a recent Afghan case, and what the future holds for legally aided immigration advice.”
Atlatszo, 31 August
Hungary is unable to properly care for even a small number of Ukrainian refugees
“Despite the government’s claims of shouldering much of the burden of the Ukrainian refugee crisis, Hungary accepted only a fracture of Ukrainians fleeing the war. Even with the small number or refugees, the government care system is performing poorly, and NGOs and volunteers are trying to fill the gaps with varying degrees of success.”
“I fled horrible living conditions in Yemen in July hoping to live a better life in Europe. I reached the Netherlands in August and continue to live in a harsh manner”
A Buon Diritto, 31 August
Appello Mimmo Lucano
A new fundraising campaign to keep Mimmo Lucano’s Riace model of reception going, after it was undermined by political and judicial efforts to portray and punish it as if it was a criminal organisation. An appeal against the convictions has just begun.
European Court of Human Rights, 30 August
R v. France and W v. France
Inadequate assessment of risks surrounding expulsion of Russian nationals of Chechen origin to Russia: violations of Article 3 of the Convention.
InfoMigrants, 29 August
First asylum seekers relocated from Italy to France via new EU mechanism
“A group of 38 asylum seekers left Italy for France last week. They are the first to be relocated under the EU’s new ‘voluntary solidarity mechanism.’”
InfoMigrants, 22 August
Germany: Over 6,000 deportations in first half of 2022
“The main three countries were North Macedonia, Albania and Georgia. Close to €600,000 were reportedly spent on controversial ‘mini charter flights’ carrying up to only four persons.”
NL Times, 21 August
Ship to house asylum seekers ready to depart for Netherlands
“A large cruise ship commissioned by Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers & the government is ready to depart from Estonia for the Netherlands. It will house 1000 asylum seekers”
UK: Arrests of republicans
The Independent, 13 September
Public ‘absolutely have a right to protest’, says top police official after arrests of anti-monarchy demonstrators
“People “absolutely have a right to protest” against the monarchy, the Metropolitan Police have said in a statement amid concerns over protesters arrested for participating in anti-monarchy demonstrations after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.”
The Guardian, 11 September
Republican protesters arrested at King Charles proclamations
“Two protesters who expressed republican sentiments have been arrested at events proclaiming the accession to the throne of King Charles III.”
Bright Green, 11 September
I was arrested after asking “who elected him?” at the proclamation of King Charles
“It was only when I went to church this morning that I learnt that there was not only a proclamation in Oxford but a procession that would start just outside our church. I was feeling sad and angry as I left church and walked past the cordoned off streets and saw the dignitaries and military leaders standing on the steps of Carfax Tower in clothing more suited to the sixteenth century. This, apparently, is how we proclaim a new head of state in twenty-first century Britain.”
The National, 12 September
Protester arrested at King Charles’s proclamation in Edinburgh is charged
A woman has been charged for holding a sign (yes really), while a 74-year old man was arrested for “breach of the peace”.
Guardian, 14 September
Swedish PM resigns after conceding election defeat to rightwing bloc
“…depending on the extent that the SD will be able to exert influence, we will see a rolling back of some of the things we have taken for granted”
Friedrich Naumann Foundation, 12 September
Serbia: Gays and lesbians “temporarily” declared personae non-gratae
“For years, Vučić’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) has been leading the country socially back into the past: the separation between church and state is becoming increasingly blurred, medieval-sytle monuments to Serbian national heroes are being erected, and “traditional Serbian values” such as family and fatherland are being unduly upheld.”
Council of Europe, 9 September
Secretary General: Millions of Russians no longer protected by the European Convention on Human Rights
“The Council of Europe will continue to support and engage with human rights defenders, democratic forces, free media and independent civil society in the Russian Federation”
Tweet, 6 September
UK: The voting record of the next likely Home Secretary – grim reading
– Consistently voted for mass surveillance
– Consistently voted for requiring the mass retention of information about communications
– Generally voted for a stricter asylum system
The Moscow Times, 5 September
Russia Revokes Novaya Gazeta Newspaper Print License
“A Moscow court on Monday revoked the print license of independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, whose chief editor last year was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.”
Declassified UK, 2 September
Creeping authoritarianism – the next threat to our civil liberties
“While the mainstream media has been preoccupied by the Conservative Party’s infighting over who will be Britain’s new prime minister, sinister but barely noticed plans are being drawn up with profound threats to our civil liberties.”
Rule of law issues within the EU.
Kurdish communities in Finland and Sweden fear the effects of an agreement with Turkey to enable extraditions of those it describes as “terrorist suspects” in exchange for not obstructing their NATO membership.
Balkan Insight, 24 August
Slovakia’s Far-Right ĽSNS Party: Saved by Its Perceived Irrelevance
“Slovakia’s prosecutor general has announced that… he won’t try to dissolve Kotleba’s party, arguing it’s not a serious threat to democracy. Some think that view is too sanguine.”
Irish Legal News, 9 September
NI High Court: Judge denies judicial review for terrorist seeking mercy release
“The court found that the applicant’s attempts to rely on the royal prerogative of mercy to reduce his time in prison was based on a flawed interpretation of the terrorism legislation.”
Draft regulation designed to uphold the EU’s rights under both the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that now governs EU-UK trade
“French justice system to investigate responsibilities in execution of hundreds of civilians in Egypt thanks to information provided by French army” (in French)
Politico Europe, 23 August
Tanks for the memories: War upends ethnic relations in Estonia
“Ethnic Estonians and Russian-speakers differ over the war in Ukraine, prompting government fears over integration.”
UK: Police killing of Chris Kaba
openDemocracy, 10 September
‘The fight continues’: Protesters march to Scotland Yard for Chris Kaba
“Heads hung, the crowd thought about Chris Kaba, the 24-year-old unarmed Black man who was shot dead by a firearms officer in Streatham, south London, on Monday night. We thought about the laughs he’ll never get to have, the soon-to-be-born baby he’ll never get to raise, the life he’ll never get to live.”
INQUEST, 7 September
Streatham police shooting: Family of Chris Kaba demand criminal investigation
“Chris Kaba, 24, was fatally shot by a firearms officer from the Metropolitan Police shortly before 10pm on 5 September in Kirkstall Gardens, Streatham Hill, London. His death is now under investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, and will be subject to an inquest in due course.”
BBC News, 6 September
Chris Kaba: Man shot dead by police in Streatham named
“A man shot dead by police after a chase in south London has been named locally as 23-year-old rapper Chris Kaba.”
The Guardian, 6 September
Man dies after police shooting in south London
“An investigation has been launched after the ramming of a car during a police chase led to a man being shot dead in south London.”
BBC News, 7 September
UK: Leicester disorder: Dozens stopped and searched as police granted extra powers
“Dozens of people were searched and others dispersed amid outbreaks of disorder in Leicester.
“Police were granted extra powers – to stop and search without reasonable grounds and to return anyone under 16 to their home – on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.”
European Court of Human Rights, 30 August
Pârvu v. Romania
Romania must ensure that allegations of excessive use of force during police operations are effectively investigated.
Designation of “any police station” as a place of detention under new “power of urgent arrest”.
The Guardian, 22 August
Chelsea Bridge death: family say Met police wrong to Taser man
“For the police to have mistaken a gas firelighter for a screwdriver was so unbelievable.”
The Guardian, 21 August
Met police take ex-officer who made claims of sexism and racism to court
“Case claims breach of gagging order relating to book by Parm Sandhu, which alleges she faced discrimination while an officer”
“The CPT also has repeatedly expressed misgivings about mechanical restraint to immobilise detained persons”
Privacy and data protection
EDPS and EDPB, 13 September
“Lack of resources puts enforcement of individuals’ data protection rights at risk”
““We are deeply concerned that the 2023 budget, if not substantially increased, will be significantly too small to allow the EDPB and the EDPS to fulfil their tasks appropriately,” Andrea Jelinek, Chair of the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), and Wojciech Wiewiórowski, European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), write in an Open Letter to the European Parliament and the European Council.”
Matthias Monroy, 30 August
New super-databases: EU agencies get experience from the USA
“EU wants to store fingerprints & facial images of over 400 million people from third countries in a single silo. US authorities already have a system for around 275 million people”
Racism and discrimination
The Guardian, 11 September
British Muslims’ citizenship reduced to ‘second-class’ status, says thinktank
“British Muslims have had their citizenship reduced to “second-class” status as a result of recently extended powers to strip people of their nationality, a thinktank has claimed.”
Full report: Citizenship: from right to privilege (Institute of Race Relations)
The Daily Record, 7 September
Neo-Nazi mob target Scots homes with ‘racist poison’ as MSP calls for police to investigate
“An MSP has called for police to investigate after a far-right group shoved “racist” leaflets through letter boxes in a Scots town… The vile leaflets were produced by Patriotic Alternative – a shadowy neo-Nazi mob which wants to remove all non-white people from the UK. The group is known to be active in the west of Scotland and is using the leaflets to openly recruit for members.”
The New Arab, 2 September
‘Who am I? I’m a human being!’: The violent rise of anti-Syrian racism in Turkey
“In-depth: The unsettling surge of racist attacks and xenophobia along with recently announced plans to repatriate one million Syrians back to their home country have left many refugees questioning their future in Turkey.”
Secrecy and transparency
openDemocracy, 8 September
UK government department reprimanded over handling of freedom of information
“The Department for International Trade has been hit with an enforcement notice – the first to be issued in seven years – over its “persistent failures” in handling freedom of information requests.”
“Given that the public interest at stake cannot be superseded by another public interest that is deemed more important, the Ombudsman closed the case finding no maladministration. She noted, however, that every effort should be made to reassure the public that the fundamental rights of migrants are sufficiently protected and adequate safeguards are in place in this process.”
Security and intelligence
BBC News, 31 August
Shamima Begum: Spy for Canada smuggled schoolgirl to Syria
Was there foul play at work in the case that normalised citizenship-stripping for security reasons in the UK?
The European spyware scandal
Politico, 13 September
Spying scandal clouds Greece’s political future
“Hanging over everything is the possibility that more espionage plots will emerge. Already, there has been a consistent drip of fresh allegations in the Greek press in recent weeks.”
EU Observer, 9 September
The Greek Watergate
“Neither repeated complaints of the journalist himself, nor revelations by part of the Greek press that followed nor the insistence of some of us to keep talking about the issue, managed to break the wall of silence”
EurActiv, 30 August
EU’s competences to handle spyware abuse in question
“The issue of the EU’s competences to scrutinise spyware use came to the forefront during a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday (30 August), where a Europol representative said the agency’s mandate was limited to supporting member states choosing to launch an investigation.”
EU Observer, 30 August
EU parliament spyware inquiry eyes Italian firms
“European lawmakers probing the Israeli spyware Pegasus may now start looking into Italian firm Tykelab and parent company RCS Lab following media revelations of mass surveillance”
Euractiv, 29 August
Greek parliament sets up inquiry commission to probe phone tapping scandal
“Mitsotakis has said the phone tapping of Androulakis for reasons of national security was legal but “politically unacceptable.””
EU Observer, 28 August
NSO surveillance rival operating in EU
“Tykelab and its owner RCS Lab are quietly selling powerful surveillance tech, boasting that it can “track the movements of almost anybody who carries a mobile phone, whether blocks away or on another continent””
Brussels Playbook, 24 August
Greek political spying scandal (‘Predatorgate)
Greek govt tells Commission it should:
“…avoid hastily endorsing verbatim specific publications coming from political media that do not always distinguish themselves for accuracy and objectivity.”
Michel Roberto de Souza, 8 September
“Big news from Argentina! Facial recognition is declared unconstitutional by a Justice in Buenos Aires. The case presented by @ODIAasoc is undoubtedly a super important precedent for the region. @derechosdigital participated by presenting amicus curiae in the case.”
Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, 6 September
Misuse of the Schengen Information system by Council of Europe member States as a politically-motivated sanction
Committee on Legal Affairs & Human Rights is concerned about new cases of unjustified alerts into the EU’s SIS, allegedly on politically motivated grounds.
Wired Italia, 2 September
La sorveglianza con i droni in mare pone nuovi problemi di privacy
“Dalla raccolta dei dati al loro uso in database interoperabili, i programmi dell’Agenzia europea per la sicurezza in mare sollevano questioni di protezione e tutela delle informazioni. La quarta e ultima puntata dell’inchiesta di Wired su Emsa”