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EU: LIBE Draft Report calls for 'immediate suspension' of Safe Harbor

The Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament released - on 8 January 2014 - its Draft Report on mass surveillance ('the Report') following the NSA surveillance programme revelations of 2013, calling on the immediate suspension of data flows 'to any organization that has self-certified its adherence to the US Safe Harbor Principles.'

We need clear demands from the United States, underlined by drawing consequences on our side such as terminating the Safe Harbor decision.

The Report, presented by Rapporteur Claude Moraes, is a summary of the LIBE Committee's investigations conducted over the last six months. It found that the Safe Harbor framework, which permits data transfers between the US and EU, does not currently provide adequate protection for EU citizens and calls for its suspension. The Report states that 'trust has been profoundly shaken [and] in order to rebuild trust in all these dimensions a comprehensive plan is urgently needed.' Jan Philipp Albrecht, Member of the LIBE Committee, told DataGuidance, "We need clear demands from the United States, underlined by drawing consequences on our side such as terminating the Safe Harbor decision."

The Report also expressed concerns over the admissions by organisations such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook that 'they do not encrypt information and communications flowing between their data centres, thereby enabling intelligence services to intercept information.' Albrecht noted that, "the Report […] should not be watered down. On the contrary, there is a need to strengthen it with clearer demands for stronger control of the collection and evaluation of private data and personal communications. This includes setting a good framework for privacy-friendly technologies, such as for encryption and the right for anonymous communication."

Amongst other recommendations, the Report calls on Member States to adopt the General Data Protection Regulation in 2014, encourages the US to accede to the Council of Europe's Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data ('Convention 108'), and requests the European Commission to propose a comprehensive framework for the protection of whistleblowers. "Edward Snowden and the important role his brave actions have played for this crucial debate needs to be recognised, and we call on EU Member States to grant him a safe residency status and immunity from any charges related to his revelations," said Albrecht.

The Report states that the 'alarming situation' that has been revealed can only be remedied 'if Europeans are willing to dedicate sufficient resources, both human and financial, to preserving Europe's independence and self-reliance.' The deadline for tabling amendments to the Report is 22 January 2014, with a final vote likely to take place on 23 January 2014.

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