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EU-Parliament: Steps of the Surveillance Inquiry into Spying by Secret Services

On 10 July 2013, the EU-Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee has agreed on the next steps to be taken in its surveillance inquiry into alleged spying by the US and EU countries. On 4 July 2013, the EU-Parliament had adopted a Resolution on the US National Security Agency surveillance programme, surveillance bodies in various Member States and their impact on EU citizens' privacy (2013/2682(RSP)) which  instructed the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to conduct an in-depth inquiry into the matter in collaboration with national parliaments and the EU-US expert group set up by the Commission and to report back by the end of the 2013 (see Nr. 16 of the Resolution). The Civil Liberties Committee will hold hearings with their authorities, legal and IT experts, NGOs, data protection authorities, national parliaments following this issue and private firms involved in data transfers. The first hearing takes place on 5 September 2013.

Aim

The Civil Liberties Committee inquiry will gather information and evidence to investigate alleged surveillance activities by the US authorities and EU countries. It will then assess the impact of these activities on EU citizens' fundamental rights, in particular those to data protection and respect for private life, freedom of expression, the presumption of innocence and an effective remedy.

MEPs will also look into the best tools for redress should violations of these rights be confirmed, make recommendations to prevent further violations and advise on how to strengthen IT security in EU institutions, bodies and agencies.

Hearings

From September 2013, the inquiry will hold public hearings of representatives of the US authorities, European Commission and Council, member states' representatives, participants in transatlantic experts groups, legal and IT experts, NGOs, data protection authorities, national parliaments and IT companies involved in transferring data to NSA or equivalent systems.

One of the first hearings is to be devoted to "the US PRISM programme and legal issues related to FISA" (the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). Possible speakers include the US Ambassador to the EU, US National Security Agency officials, legal experts and representatives of US organisations such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Studies

The Civil Liberties Committee will commission several expert studies. The first two will deal with surveillance programmes conducted by the US and EU countries and with the follow-up to recommendations made by the Echelon Committee.

Civil Liberties Committee delegation to Washington

Civil Liberties Committee MEPs could hold meetings related to this inquiry with US authorities and US Congress during a delegation visit to Washington already planned for the end of October 2013. The Foreign Affairs Committee plans to pay a similar visit.

Next steps

MEPs' conclusions and recommendations will be set out in a report to be presented to Parliament as a whole by the end of 2013. The political groups will have to agree swiftly on which MEP is to draft the report.

So far, twelve meetings have been scheduled to take place before the end of 2013. The first will be held on 5 September in the afternoon. The Civil Liberties Committee is chaired by Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) and Sophie in 'T Veld (ALDE, NL).

EU-Parliament's press release "Civil Liberties Committee MEPs agree on surveillance inquiry's next steps" of 10 July 2013

EU-Parliament's Resolution on the US National Security Agency surveillance programme, surveillance bodies in various Member States and their impact on EU citizens' privacy (2013/2682(RSP))

Final Report of 11 July 2001 by the EU-Parliament's Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System on the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (ECHELON interception system) (2001/2098(INI)) [Part I: Motion for a resolution and Explanatory statement] 
[Part II: Minority Opinions and Annexes]

Verlag Dr. Otto Schmidt vom 10.07.2013 15:42

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