Saturday

25th May 2019

Swedish FM to head new inquiry into NSA revelations

  • Bildt: 'Net freedom is as fundamental as freedom of information and freedom of speech in our societies' (Photo: Gunnar Seijbold/Regeringskansliet)

An new commission to be headed by Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt is set to investigate the implications of the US snooping affair for the future of the internet.

“In most countries, increased attention is being given to all the issues of net freedom, net security and net governance. And they are, in my view, closely related to each other,” Bildt said in a statement on Wednesday (22 January).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The Global Commission on Internet Governance - launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Swizterland, this week - has a two-year mission to investigate state censorship of the internet and the mass surveillance and bulk processing of personal data by US and UK intelligence agencies.

The project is the brainchild of two think tanks: the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in the US and the UK’s Royal Institute of International Affairs, better known as Chatham House.

The 25-member panel includes Marietje Schaake, a Dutch liberal MEP and a prominent digital rights campaigner.

Former intelligence officials and academics also sit on the panel.

“The commission’s work is also intended to build on a number of important strategic dialogues that are already underway and to feed into on-going policy discussions at the global level,” said a CIGI director.

The inquiry did not list the countries it intends to investigate, but notes on its website that a number of authoritarian states are waging a campaign to exert state control over critical online resources.

The US-based NGO Human Rights Watch in its annual report, out earlier this week, warned the US snooping revelations, leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, could give a pretext for countries with poor human rights standards to clamp down ever further on internet freedoms.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama last week announced new measures to increase judicial oversight of data collection, but ruled out setting up legal safeguards to restrict surveillance of “foreign persons overseas.”

“The whole point of intelligence is to gather information that is not publically available,” he said.

US-led spy programmes, scuh as Prism, are said to give its National Security Agency (NSA) back-door entry into major American tech and Internet firms, in a revelation that could prompt foreign clients to leave in search of more secure services elsewhere.

The EU, for its part, says US cloud companies, such as Google and Microsoft, stand to lose billions over the next three years as non-American clients depart.

The pressure to restore trust among foreign clients has prompted Microsoft to move its servers outside the US and the easy reach of the NSA.

Microsoft’s chief lawyer Brad Smith told the Financial Times newspaper on Wednesday that people should be able to choose where their data is stored given the different models on privacy around the world.

“People should have the ability to know whether their data are being subjected to the laws and access of governments in some other country and should have the ability to make an informed choice of where their data resides,” he said, in a statement welcomed by civil liberties activists.

Europol busts global cybercrime gang

A loose network of cyber criminals recruited from an online Russian forum managed to infect thousands of computers in an effort to steal online banking credentials. The gang has been dismantled, with some now on the run.

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

EU justice 'barometer' hindered by data gaps

Some member states continue to impede the European Commission's annual attempt to define the state of Europe's justice system, by not providing data on their national situations.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal

Opinion

A fundamental contradiction in EU drug policy

The knock-on affects from a 'war on drugs' in Europe is creating problems in Albania - and as far afield as Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  2. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK
  3. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  4. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  5. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  6. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  7. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll
  8. No usage data kept for EU parliament's 'Citizens' App'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us