Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are decrying the strange lack of action by EU institutions in safeguarding citizens’ rights from the massive electronic surveillance dragnet of U.S. agencies.
Data transfers between EU member states and the U.S. have long been riddled with allegations of unwarranted surveillance that blatantly disregards individual rights to privacy and MEPs are now calling for an immediate overhaul of data transfers until the rights of individuals are protected.
In the EU parliament on Thursday, 342 MEPs voted for a renewed anti surveillance system against 274 MEPs who voted against it. Through the Thursday resolution, MEPs took stock of the inaction of the EU Commission, EU institutions and member countries to follow through on recommendations outlined in a 12 March 2014 resolution on electronic mass surveillance.
The 2014 resolution was passed in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations of illegal surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) on American citizens. It called upon EU states to “drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender".
MEPs said the EU Commission’s response to the 2014 resolution had so far been “highly inadequate” despite the extent of allegations on mass citizen surveillance. German intelligence agency BND has been accused of cooperating with the U.S.’s NSA to collect information illegally through breaching EU telecommunications and internet traffic.
According to MEPs, “EU citizens' fundamental rights remain in danger" and "too little has been done to ensure their full protection." The members also expressed deep concern over recent laws in certain EU countries that extended surveillance capabilities of their governments. France, the Netherlands and the UK were some of the countries implicated.
The EU Parliament’s Thursday resolution called upon the EU commission to “immediately take the necessary measures to ensure that all personal data transferred to the US is subject to an effective level of protection that is essentially equivalent to that guaranteed in the EU.” The resolution also called upon the EU Commission to reflect on the October 6 judgement by the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) that invalidated the commission’s scheme of data transfers to the U.S.
The EU parliament resolution called for increased IT independence and online privacy within the EU. Through the resolution, the members hope that individual citizens’ rights that have been violated continuously, without their knowledge, will be restored.