On July, 4th, the European Parliament adopted a resolution to conduct an inquiry into “PRISM” and other surveillance programs, undertaken by the Civil Liberties Committee.
The purpose of the investigation – consisting of public hearings of representatives of the US authorities, European Commission and Council, member states’ representatives, data protection authorities, participants in transatlantic experts groups, legal and IT experts, national parliaments and IT companies involved in transferring data to NSA or equivalent systems, NGOs – is to assess, on one hand, the impact of surveillance activities by the US authorities and EU countries on EU citizens’ fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, data protection and respect for private life, the presumption of innocence, on the other hand, the right to an effective remedy.
“Surveillance has a huge impact on people. The NSA is not bound by EU laws and does not care about your laws, so it can wiretap anybody in your countries without any kind of warrant”, pointed out investigative journalist and computer security researcher Jacob Appelbaum in his opening speech. “This is not a post 9/11 issue – the US has been doing this for a very long time”, he added.
On September, 5th, the first hearing took place in which the attention was focused on the impact of US National Security Agency and other surveillance programs on EU citizens’ privacy and media freedom and the lack of democratic oversight of these programs.
The next hearings will be held on 12th and 24th September, in Strasbourg and Brussels, respectively. A resolution is expected to be put to a Civil Liberties Committee vote in December and a plenary one in January 2014.