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NSA surveillance of EU citizens

 

3 other language versions available in pdf:

NSA-Affäre: Was unternimmt das Europäische Parlament?
Face à la surveillance par la NSA des citoyens européens, qu’a fait le Parlement européen?
Wat heeft het EP gedaan aan het NSA-toezicht op EU-burgers?

Citizens have been concerned about the US National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programmes since they were first revealed in the summer of 2013. One of the main issues raised by citizens was the fear that their fundamental right to privacy could have been violated. Others requested that the European Parliament take action and conduct a full investigation. Some people suggested that EU-US relations should be put on hold until the results of the inquiry were made known. The fate of whistleblower Edward Snowden triggered further reactions from citizens.

Parliament has serious concerns about the NSA’s activities and other surveillance programmes and their impact on EU citizens’ fundamental rights.

First resolution on surveillance programmes

Parliament took action immediately the allegations of the NSA activities became public. In July 2013 it adopted a resolution on the US National Security Agency surveillance programme and launched an investigation to determine the impact of US National Security Agency and other surveillance programmes on EU citizens’ privacy and media freedom. A press release summarises Parliament’s principal demands.

Inquiry on electronic mass surveillance

Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) has conducted 15 hearings in the context of its inquiry on electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens. Information relating to the committee’s hearings, including programmes, video recordings and speakers’ contributions, is published on the committee’s website.

Second resolution on surveillance programmes

NSA Surveillance

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On 12 March 2014 Parliament adopted a second resolution with a large majority (544 votes to 78, with 60 abstentions), in which the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) set out their findings and recommendations to boost EU citizens’ privacy.

The resolution implies that Parliament should withhold its consent to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement unless the agreement fully respects the fundamental rights enshrined in the EU Charter, and stresses that data protection should be excluded from the trade talks.

The resolution also calls on the Commission to suspend immediately the ‘Safe Harbour’ principles (data protection standards that US companies have to meet when transferring EU citizens’ data to the US) and to renegotiate new, appropriate data protection standards.

The Commission is also urged to suspend the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) deal with the US until a ‘thorough investigation’ is carried out with a view to restoring trust in the agreement.

Parliament’s press release explains in detail Parliament’s resolution and its requests.

Edward Snowden

Some Members of the European Parliament expressed their support for granting asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who disclosed the NSA’s surveillance activities. However, asylum status can only be granted by individual Member States and not by the European Union as such.

Parliament expressed its sincere appreciation of Mr Snowden’s revelations and of his courage by including him in the shortlist of three finalists for the 2013 Sakharov Prize.

Any questions on this issue or another EP-related concern? Please use our web form. You write, we answer.

About Ask EP

The Citizens' Enquiries Unit provides information on the activities, powers and organisation of the European Parliament. You ask, we answer.

Discussion

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