Hacking and spying on allies unacceptable. Axel Voss MEP and Carlos Coelho MEP
The first hearing by the Committee on Civil Liberties and Home Affairs (LIBE) in its Inquiry into the mass electronic surveillance of EU citizens took place today in the European Parliament. The hearing consisted of two sessions. The first focused on an exchange of views with the media that unveiled the facts and the second on the participants of the EU-US expert groups.
Because there are a lot of similarities with the investigation into the Echelon system, Carlos Coelho MEP, former Chair of the Temporary Committee on the Echelon Interception System, underlined that "the PRISM Programme is nothing new. It's just a more powerful and technologically-enhanced Echelon. It was proven that in 2001 the US redirected their surveillance from military to civil targets. Unfortunately they are still spying on their allies. We must protect all EU citizens from any clandestine surveillance programs".
Further hearings will follow and will be completed by a final report planned for the end of the year. Axel Voss (DE) will be Shadow Rapporteur on behalf of the EPP Group. He stressed that: "We need more Information on PRISM, especially on the programme’s legal status and practical operations. EU citizens should be provided with more effective legal protection in the US. The companies involved also have to give us more information on how they handle data. That will improve transparency."
A lot of concerns have been raised after the revelations and the allegations of surveillance of EU citizens, institutions and Member States by the US National Security Agency. In its resolution of 4 July 2013, the European Parliament gave the LIBE Committee Inquiry a mandate to gather all relevant information and evidence from both US and EU sources (fact-finding), to investigate the alleged surveillance activities of US authorities - as well as any carried out by certain Member States, to explore the most appropriate mechanisms for redress in the event of confirmed violations, to issue recommendations on preventing further violations and to ensure the high-level protection of EU citizens and institutions.
Echelon is the name used for a system for the interception of private and commercial communications. During 2000 and 2001 a European Parliament Committee investigated its use. In its report, the Parliament concluded on the basis of the information collected that Echelon could intercept telephone calls, e-mails, fax and data.
Axel VOSS MEP, Phone: +32 (0)2 2845302
Carlos COELHO MEP, Phone: +32 (0)2 2845551
Theodoros Georgitsopoulos, EPP Group Press and Communications Service, Phone: +32 475 750566
Francisco Correia Da Silva, EPP Group Press and Communications Service, Phone: +32 470 830567
Thomas Bickl, EPP Group Press and Communications Service, Phone: +32 478 215372
Note to Editors:
The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 275 Members from 27 Member States.