Exactly two months before the September 11 attacks, a European Parliament special committee released a study of government surveillance. A lot has changed since then, especially with the recent Prism spying scandal. That´s why there´s a new parliamentary inquiry into who Big Brother is watching now, and why.
The Civil Liberties, Justice and Home affairs committee sought an exchange of views with former members of the special panel that wrote the 2001 report, and with investigative journalists who reported on mass data collection by US and other Western intelligence agencies.
Terrorism can be everywhere. So they consider that they need to have that tool. Huge technological tool to be able to follow everyone´s life. So they collect it, and they stock it, all these metadata, to be able just to find in this database, whenever they have the need for that.
Carlos Coelho of the EPP, chaired the Temporary Committee on the Echelon Interception System in 2001. Developed during the Cold War by the United States and its allies, Echelon spied on the Soviet bloc. The internet revolution has since changed the world, and refocused that surveillance.
We should be worried because we believe between allies it´s not a proper way to make these deals. That means I understand the need of the United States to pick information and to spy on their enemies. But they are doing that on their allies, and it´s quite difficult to understand.
With the Prism spying scandal, a number of European governments have been forced to acknowledge cooperation with the US or surveillance on their own, to prevent new terror attacks. MEPs say that doesn't minimise the concern over Europeans' right to privacy.
We should of course strengthen the data protection for European citizens in the US. This is a main goal. ... 2:28 But we also have to find a way or look into the future where we can probably create a frame, how intelligence services should transfer data to each other.
The nearly 200-page report in 2001 raised the issue of industrial espionage and advised European businesses to encrypt their communications to make sure they do not lose valuable company secrets.
The new inquiry is to produce a report by the end of the year, assessing the impact of international surveillance, and making recommendations to prevent future violations of privacy.
It's a delicate balance: how much surveillance is appropriate to head off another September 11 but still protect Europeans' fundamental right to privacy. An issue of intense debate with no easy answers. Find out more about the activities of the largest political force in parliament by checking eppgroup.eu. Thanks for watching and see you again soon.
EP Justice Committee inquiry focuses on spy scandal revelations
The European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee reviews latest reports on state surveillance and examines related right-to-privacy issues. EPP MEPs Carlos Coelho and Axel Voss note the need to balance civil rights with intelligence needs to prevent future terror attacks.
European Parliament, EPP, Carlos Coelho, Axel Voss, surveillance, spying, espionage, Echelon, Prism, privacy, terrorism, September 11, Jacques Follorou, Le Monde
This media asset is free for editorial broadcast, print, online and radio use. It is restricted for use for other purposes.