Statewatch article: RefNo# 2771
EU-FBI telecommunications surveillance plan: Secret services andG8 intervene
Statewatch bulletin vol 9 no 6 (November-December 1999)
Interventions by the EU's internal security services and a G8 Sub-group on surveillance and data protection

The EU-FBI telecommunications surveillance plan has been held up since early summer over the revised set of "Requirements" to be laid on internet and service providers (ENFOPOL 19) and the draft Convention on Mutual Assistance in criminal matters - now held up for nearly two years due to the inclusion of provisions on interception and the inability of EU member states to reach agreement (see Statewatch vol 7 no 1, 4 & 5; vol 8 nos 5 & 6; vol 9 no 2).

The intervention of new players is partly responsible for the hold-up. First, the internal security services of EU member states have directly intervened because they considered the restrictions of their "freedom" to conduct surveillance could be limited by the draft provisions in the draft Convention. The potential role of the internal security services (like MI5) cropped up earlier in the discussion over the provisions in the draft Convention because the UK is the only EU member state to formally give, by law, a role to MI5 to assist the police in their crime role. The other EU member states have no problems as they maintain the draft Convention only covers "crime" and policing - which has always begged the question that if this Convention is not to cover surveillance by internal security services what does? The answer is nothing covers or limits or makes accountable their surveillance of telecommunications. The Justice and Home Affairs Council on 2 December agreed that the draft Convention, while placing a general obligation on the "intercepting" member state to inform the member state in which the interception is carried out, this will only apply to "criminal" proceedings and investigations - and not to "interceptions undertaken for national security purposes". The effect is that the surveillance of telecommunications by internal security agencies is left untouched by the draft Convention but allows them to take advantage of access to telecommunications being opened by the "Requirements" to be laid on internet and service providers under the EU-FBI plan.

The EU-FBI telecommunications surveillance plan is intended to serve the "law enforcement community" as distinct from the "military-intelligence community" (which uses ECHELON). The latter covers intelligences agencies like NSA and the CIA in the US and MI6 (the overseas Secret Intelligence Service) in the UK. This leave internal security agencies primarily dependent on the EU-FBI plan for its surveillance work. So, although EU member states have to at least create the appearance of control and accountability and even data protection for policing activities these provisions could limit, or lead to the exposure of, internal security service surveillance. This is especially the case when the line between traditional "internal security" and "combatting crime" is increasingly blurred in fields like computer crime, environmental and political protests, and "illegal immigration".

Secret groups

While the draft Convention on Mutual Assistance in criminal matters sets out powers of surveillance and interception within the EU the "Requirements", which will also apply within the EU, are subject to international agreement through a series of hidden working parties.

These secret working groups include: i) the EU Police Cooperation Working Group (Telecommunications) and its Technical Questions Sub-Group; ii) IUR, the International Users
Requirements group; iii) STC, Standards Technical Committee; and ILETS, International Law Enforcement Telecommunications Seminar. ILETS is a key group comprising the Cold War UKUSA countries -the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and UK - plus Hong Kong and Norway and 14 EU member states (15 minus the UK which was a founding member). Aside from strictly technical questions membership of these groups overlap so that EU member
representatives on the Police Coope

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