Europeans' rights still threatened by massive surveillance: MEPs

October 30, 2015 11:02 am 

STRASBOURG, Oct. 30 — European citizens' fundamental rights are still under threat from mass surveillance techniques, Members of European Parliament (MEPs) said in a resolution adopted Thursday during a plenary session here.

Thursday's text, a follow-up to a March 2014 resolution on the same topic, said too little had been done to protect EU citizens' fundamental rights in the wake of surveillance revelations brought to light by U.S. whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

Under particular scrutiny was the transfer of data to the United States, which MEPs view as having an "inadequate level of protection."

The parliamentarians welcomed an Oct. 6 decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the Schrems case, which invalidated a European Commission position on the "safe harbor" system for data transfers to the United States.

In light of that decision, the MEPs called the Commission to "immediately take the necessary measures to ensure that all personal data transferred to the United States are subject to an effective level of protection that is essentially equivalent to that guaranteed in the EU."

It requested the Commission to work immediately on alternatives to the safe harbor system, with a report by the end of 2015.

The parliament expressed concern over new security laws in some member states, such as France, Britain and the Netherlands, which have recently been passed and extend the surveillance capabilities of national intelligence agencies in the wake of terrorist attacks earlier this year.

The text was adopted by a narrow margin of 285 votes in favor to 281 against.

The resolution also called on EU member states to "drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender."

The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, made similar appeals for the protection of Edward Snowden to its 47 member states in a resolution on massive surveillance adopted in March 2015, and a resolution on the protection of whistle-blowers passed in June 2015.

Information leaked in 2013 by the former intelligence analyst showed widespread and massive techniques of surveillance were being used to collect data on private citizens by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and the national intelligence agencies of several allies around the world, including member states of the European Union. (PNA/Xinhua)



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