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The top-secret U.S. National Security Agency, which routinely spies on citizens and organizations, is about to be investigated itself.
That’s following a decision by the European Parliament, which voted 483-98 to investigate how the PRISM program and other surveillance activities of the NSA have impacted individuals and organizations in Europe.
The investigation will be done by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs, which is recognized among experts as one of the more influential components of the parliament.
According to European Parliament records of the decision, the resolution calls “on the U.S. authorities to provide the EU, without undue delay, with full information on PRISM and other such programs involving data collection, in particular as regards their legal basis, necessity and proportionality and the safeguards implemented to protect the fundamental rights of EU citizens, such as limitation of scope and duration, conditions for access, and independent supervision, as provided for under the Convention on Cybercrime.”
The U.S. should “suspend and review any laws and surveillance programs that violate the fundamental right of EU citizens to privacy and data protection,” the group determined.
The NSA spying is only one of many recent scandals for the Obama administration. The NSA was found to be collecting data on billions of telephone calls as well as spying on America’s allies. Also causing headwinds for Obama’s second-term agenda of amnesty to illegal aliens and other progressive plans are the Benghazi terror attack, the IRS targeting of conservatives groups and the FBI’s snooping on journalists’ telephone calls.
The announcement from the parliament said the civil liberties committee “will conduct an ‘in-depth inquiry’ into the U.S. surveillance programs, including the bugging of EU premises and other spying allegations.”
The results are expected to be available as early as the end of this year.
“Parliament also expresses grave concern about allegations that similar surveillance programs are run by several EU member states, such as the U.K., Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany,” the organization’s statement said.
It notes that its own directives already address “the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and to the free movement of such data,” as well as its standards for “electronic communications.”
“The transatlantic partnership between the EU and the U.S. must be based on mutual trust and respect, loyal and mutual cooperation, respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law,” the resolution explains. “The member states are obliged to respect the fundamental rights and values enshrined in Article 2 TEU and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.”
However, now, it states, there are doubts about what the U.S. is doing.
“This doubt concerns not only the actions of U.S. authorities, but also those of several EU member states, which according to the international press have cooperated with PRISM and other such programs or obtained access to the databases created.
“It would be unfortunate if the efforts to conclude a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which demonstrates the commitment to further strengthen the partnership between the EU and the U.S., were to be affected by the recent allegations,” it said ominously.
Possible repercussions could include the “suspension of the passenger name record and terrorist finance tracking program agreements” that already exist, the resolution warns.
Among the demands is that EU citizens be given information when their data is processed in the U.S.
The team will be tasked with gathering “all relevant information and evidence from both U.S. and EU sources,” as well as investigating U.S. surveillance activities and considering the impact of those programs on the fundamental rights of EU citizens.
Other goals are to identify redress for those hurt by the surveillance, a plan to prevent further violations and recommendations on how to boost IT security.
According to a report at Bloomberg BNA, the resolution comes from the “serious concern” officials have about U.S. surveillance practices.
The report said Dutch Liberal member of the European Parliament Sophie in ‘t Veld, a prominent lawmaker on data protection issues, said in a July 5 statement that controversy about PRISM and other programs showed that the European Union must “finally act upon our repeated request to solve the conflict of jurisdiction’ between the European Union and the United States on data protection.”
“We can no longer tolerate that the U.S. or any other country’s law is applied directly on EU territory. EU citizens must be guaranteed protection under our own EU laws,” Veld said.