Tomorrow MEPs on the European Parliament's civil liberties committee will present their draft report on the Internet surveillance of the UK and USA as well as other EU states. Its recommendations are damning and the UK Government comes in for particularly strong criticism.
It won't be officially presented to the committee until tomorrow but you can already read the draft report on the EU Parliament website. Here are the headlines.
After condemning the systematic collection of the personal data of innocent people, the report calls on EU Member States and the USA "to prohibit blanket mass surveillance activities and bulk processing of personal data."
It goes on say that "these mass surveillance activities appear also to entail illegal actions by intelligence services." The MEPs call on the UK, Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands to revise their legislation relating to intelligence services to ensure they comply with the European Convention on Human Rights.
They make particular mention of the UK saying that the current legal framework governing British surveillance – the Human Rights Act 1998, the Intelligence Services Act 1994 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 – "should be revised" to comply with fundamental rights obligations relating to privacy, data protection and presumption of innocence.
The report also calls on EU Member States to "take appropriate action immediately, including court action, against the breach of their sovereignty...perpetrated through the mass surveillance programmes."
The MEPs go on to call on Member States to "refrain from accepting data from third states which have been collected unlawfully and from allowing surveillance activities on their territory by third states’ governments or agencies which are unlawful under national law".
On transfers of data from Europe to the USA, the committee says that American data protection laws "do not provide adequate protection for EU citizens" and calls on the European Commission to produce a "comprehensive assessment of the US privacy framework covering commercial, law enforcement and intelligence activitie" by June 2014.
It's striking when reading the draft report just how opposite the response to Snowden's revelations has been in Brussels to that in Westminster. This inquiry puts the UK Parliament to shame.
Whereas the European Parliament has called witnesses, had a full debate and will soon hear from Snowden himself, MPs in London have debated Internet surveillance just once. In that debate and in the few committee hearings dealing with surveillance, many MPs have decided that it is more important to criticise Snowden and the Guardian for revealing the surveillance than to engage with implications of the revelations themselves.
ORG and others have long called for a full inquiry into British surveillance law and we welcome the recommendations in the committee's report. We call on the UK Government to accept the recommendations of this report and undertake a comprehensive review of the legislation governing British Internet surveillance.