Extraordinary Popular Delusions

"Men… think in herds … they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."

Tag: libe

Fourth European Parliament hearing on surveillance: special whistleblower edition

Monday’s fourth #EPInquiry hearing was relatively well-reported, largely because Edward Snowden supplied a statement, delivered to the inquiry by the Government Accountability Project’s Jesselyn Radack.

Audio of the full hearing is available here, thanks to Henrik Alexandersson, who has also posted the audio of the previous three hearings.

The speakers were Marc Rotenberg (EPIC), Catherine Crump (ACLU), Thomas Drake (NSA whistleblower), J. Kirk Wiebe (NSA whistleblower), Annie Machon (MI5 whistleblower), Jesselyn Radack (Government Accountability Project) and John Devitt (Transparency International). Video of the following presentations has been made available by the Government Accountability Project:

Jesselyn Radack

Thomas Drake

J. Kirk Wiebe

The next hearing is tomorrow, Thursday 3rd October and one of the subjects up for discussion will be GCHQ’s aggressive actions against the Belgian national telecoms company, Belgacom – whose clients include the European Parliament. Unfortunately, GCHQ’s director has declined the opportunity to justify himself in front of the Committee.

Missed my posts on the first three #EPInquiry hearings? Find them here (one, two, three).

Update (3/9)

Full video of the hearing is now available:

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European Parliament holds third surveillance hearing

Unlike previous hearings (one, two), I’ve been able to follow this one as it proceeded (and even, eventually, found a machine that will relay the European Parliament’s  livestream properly). This storified account of the hearing will be updated throughout the day.

[View the story “#EPInquiry hearing three” on Storify]

It is worth noting that the full-day hearing concludes with an acknowledgement that responses given by members of the EU-US Transatlantic group of experts on data protection and the speakers from EuroPol and SWIFT were unsatisfactory – those relate to the first two sessions recounted at that storify link. Caspar Bowden’s presentation in the fifth session is well worth your time too.

The next #EPInquiry hearing is scheduled for Monday 30 October and will include another set of interviews with representatives from US civil society (I think the ACLU this time around) and a second session on whistleblower protections. The hearing after that, on  Thursday 3 October will look into GCHQ’s compromise of the mobile network Belgian national telecoms company, Belgacom, which coincidentally provides services to EU institutions. UK representatives have been invited to this hearing, although it remains to be seen whether any will turn up.

Update (2/10)

GCHQ have declined the opportunity to justify their actions at the fifth #EPInquiry hearing tomorrow.

 

A few #EPInquiry-related updates

Next #EPInqury hearing tomorrow

In my last few posts, I’ve been tracking the European Parliament Inquiry into surveillance in and by EU member states (first hearing, second hearing).

Tomorrow (Tuesday), the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) holds its third hearing, which it trails as follows:

There are five sessions foreseen in the programme focusing on “Allegations of NSA tapping into the SWIFT data used in the TFTP programme”, “Exchange of views with US Administration”, “Feedback of the meeting of the EU-US Transatlantic group of experts on data protection of 19/20 September 2013″, “Exchange of views with US Civil Society (part I)” and “Presentation of the study on the US surveillance programmes and their impact on EU citizens’ privacy”.

The study referred to on US surveillance programmes and their impact on EU citizens’ privacy, prepared by Caspar Bowden is available here.
 The hearing will be broadcast live from 8am UK Time.

More on The Athens Affair

Jacob Appelbaum’s presentation to the first #EPInquiry hearing used an incident in Greece in 2004-5 as a potential example of NSA interference abroad which is not subject to any meaningful limits whatsoever:

the NSA is not bound by European laws and they don’t care what your laws say. So when you say it would be proportionate and balanced to wiretap people for the purposes of terrorism, you are also tacitly endorsing the NSA to wiretap everyone in your country without any judicial process or any proportionality whatsoever.

This is what happened in Greece with the Athens affair, almost certainly – we don’t know it was the NSA, but it was an actor with sufficient capabilities. They were able to wiretap the Prime Minister as well as Members of Parliament. It also moves the risk from a world that was military to one where someone operates a computer and they’re your last line of defence between your Prime Minister being wiretapped or not.

In the case of the Vodafone incident in Greece, the person in charge of that telephone switch was found hanged to death in his apartment. And the reason is he wasn’t trained to do these things or defend an entire nation in that way. So it[NSA impunity] changes the balance of power in a very serious fashion.

Most of the reporting on the Athens Affair in the English-language media appeared in 2007 when the news initially broke. Greekemmy has now updated the story at WikiLeaks-press.org with information on the evidence turned up by a subsequent public inquiry in 2010-11. This inquiry identified the US Embassy in Athens as the agency responsible for the interception. An announcement of a criminal investigation into US embassy employees followed, but this seems to have been quietly dropped.