Author Archive

Prof. Scheinin (EUI) provides written testimony to the US Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

Prof. Martin Scheinin provided written testimony to the US Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s hearing held on Wednesday, March 19th,  in Washington DC. The Board is currently examining the surveillance program conducted under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. The work of the SURVEILLE project is mentioned in the hearing’s documentation (a link is given below):

Right to Privacy in the Digital Age – SURVEILLE discussed at UN Seminar

An expert seminar was hosted at the United Nations (Geneva) by the governments of Austria, Brazil, Germany, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland on the basis of the corresponding UN General Assembly resolution. The following link provides a video record of the seminar: Note: At 1 h 55 min of the video (linked above) Ben Emmerson (UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism) refers to the SURVEILLE project and Prof. Martin Scheinin (EUI) explains the scoring applied in SURVEILLE deliverable D2.6 that is currently being elaborated upon towards deliverable D2.8.

US Panel Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies Publishes Report

Yesterday the panel established by President Obama to review the surveillance practices of the NSA released its final report. One important dimension relates to the possible privacy protections of non-US citizens abroad. You can find the Review Group’s report HERE. The report does not elaborate on the international human rights law obligations of the US (as a matter of law) but it draws inspiration from them and comes pretty close to the correct conclusions. Recommendation 13 quoted below (p. 151) comes close to a proper permissible limitations test. What is missing is proportionality, though as necessity is present (see “exclusively” in item 2) even proportionality can be inferred. Some of the reasoning quotes international law standards on privacy, even if presented in the context of policy considerations (democracy and reciprocity). The points articulated on pp. 155-156 in the report can be seen as a turn from policy to principle and can (perhaps optimistically) be read as an aspiration to respect foreigners’ privacy also/just because it happens to be a human right (please see quote #2, below). QUOTE #1: ‘Recommendation 13’ (on page 29 of the report) – “We recommend that, in implementing section 702, and any other authority that authorizes the surveillance of non-United States persons who are outside the United States, in addition to the safeguards and oversight mechanisms already in place, the US Government should reaffirm that such surveillance: (1) must be authorized by duly enacted laws or properly authorized executive orders; (2) must be directed exclusively at the national security of the United States or our allies; (3) must not be directed at illicit or illegitimate ends, such as the theft of trade secrets or obtaining commercial gain for domestic industries; and (4) must not disseminate information about non-United States persons if the information is not relevant to protecting the national security of the United States or our allies. In addition, the US Government should make clear that such surveillance: (1) must not target any non-United States person located outside of the United States based solely on that person’s political views or religious convictions; and (2) must be subject to careful oversight and to the highest degree of transparency consistent with protecting the national security of the United States and our allies.” QUOTE #2:  (pp. 155-156 of the report) – “Perhaps most important, however, is the simple and fundamental issue of respect for personal privacy and human dignity – wherever people may reside. The right of privacy has been recognized as a basic human right that all nations should respect. Both Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights proclaim that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy. . . .” Although that declaration provides little guidance about what is meant by “arbitrary or unlawful interference,” the aspiration is clear. The United States should be a leader in championing the protection by all nations of fundamental human rights, including the right of privacy, which is central to human dignity.”

SURVEILLE and EFUS Feature in Colombia's El Tiempo

During the visit of SURVEILLE’s Sebastian Sperber (EFUS) and Jonathan Andrew (EUI) to Bogotá the two were interviewed by the Colombian daily paper ‘El Tiempo’. Sebastian and Jonathan discussed their experience of the use of surveillance technologies by law enforcement and public authorities in Europe, and spoke of their experiences in Bogotá visiting the presidential administration and the city’s chamber of commerce. For the article please visit El Tiempo’s website:

Professor Martin Scheinin testifies today before European Parliament’s LIBE Committee inquiry on surveillance

Professor Martin Scheinin, the Coordinator of the FP7-Research Project SURVEILLE, testifies before the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee inquiry on mass surveillance Today SURVEILLE’s Coordinator, Professor Martin Scheinin of the EUI, provided testimony to the LIBE Committee with regard to mass surveillance and addressed the issues that concern such practices with respect to European citizens’ fundamental rights. Live video feed: The PDF documents below contain: 1. Professor Martin Scheinin’s main statement for the inquiry ~CLICK HERE~ 2. Supporting documents relating to the statement ~CLICK HERE~