Friday, January 10, 2014

Mass surveillance is illegal

At least, that's the view of the civil liberties committee of the European Parliament:

Mass surveillance programmes used by the US and Britain to spy on people in Europe have been condemned in the "strongest possible terms" by the first parliamentary inquiry into the disclosures, which has demanded an end to the vast, systematic and indiscriminate collection of personal data by intelligence agencies.

The inquiry by the European parliament's civil liberties committee says the activities of America's National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart, GCHQ, appear to be illegal and that their operations have "profoundly shaken" the trust between countries that considered themselves allies.

The 51-page draft report, obtained by the Guardian, was discussed by the committee on Thursday. Claude Moraes, the rapporteur asked to assess the impact of revelations made by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, [also] condemns the "chilling" way journalists working on the stories have been intimidated by state authorities.

They're demanding a prohibition on mass-surveillance and the bulk-processing of personal data, and that EU countries collaborating with the US (including the UK, Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands) ensure that their intelligence laws are consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights. Meanwhile, the European Parliament is revising the "safe harbour" law, which will basically outlaw information transfers to the US.

But what's missing from this is demands for prosecution. US spies and their UK collaborators have violated human rights on a massive scale. In doing so, they have undoubtedly violated the anti-wiretapping and data protection laws of numerous countries. And they should be jailed for it.