EP Inquiry presents its “plan for the future” to protect EU citizens against mass-surveillance

On February 9th, the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) presented its long-awaited draft report on the impact of mass surveillance programmes on the rights of European citizens.

The LIBE inquiry, ongoing since September 2013, is now coming to an end. The conclusions presented by the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) condemned in the “strongest possible terms” the mass-surveillance programmes before demanding an end to the vast, systematic, and indiscriminate collection of personal data by intelligence agencies such as the NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ.

The report, based on findings from the Inquiry, introduces recommendations on how various European institutions should address the issues raised by mass-surveillance and restore trust between the E.U. and the United States. The report also includes a series of priorities for the next Parliament — to be elected in May — on how to implement these recommendations. All of the report’s recommendations were gathered from the working documents that have been presented in the LIBE inquiry hearings.

Looking towards the future

The Members of the European Parliament designed their report as a plan for the future, proposing a “European Digital Habeas Corpus” for the protection of citizens’ privacy and a timeline of priorities for the next Parliament.

The Habeas Corpus priorities include 1) the adoption of the Data Protection Reform Package in 2014 at the latest and2) the rollback of data sharing and national security measures that are in contravention of fundamental rights. This rollback is to be enforced by the adoption of a comprehensive agreement on data transfer between the E.U. and the U.S., including a mechanism guaranteeing judicial redress for E.U. citizens to protect their data that is stored in the United States. The report specifies that all of these recommendations should be adopted and implemented by 2015.

The draft report is non-binding, still open to amendments, and must be voted on by the Parliament. However, it adds to the growing body of criticism and outrage at the perceived intelligence abuses by Western foreign intelligence services. Moreover, it establishes the determination of the responsible MEPs to adopt these priorities, in order to ensure that the next Parliament will continue the work of the Inquiry and implement their recommendations.

Coming next

MEPs were able to propose amendments to this draft report until January 23rd. A final version of this report is to scheduled be presented in the LIBE committee on February 10th.

Once the final document is available, we will produce a comprehensive analysis of its findings, recommendations, and priority plan.