Civil Liberties MEPs criticised Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström for "ignoring" Parliament's call to suspend the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) deal with the US, in a debate on Wednesday. Most speakers asked for proof that the US had not breached the agreement and called for a data extraction system on EU soil to avoid sending bulk data to the US.
The need to step up the security of EU information technology (IT) systems and parliamentary oversight of intelligence services in Belgium and Denmark were debated at the tenth Civil Liberties Committee inquiry hearing, held Thursday, on the electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens.
Seasonal workers from outside the EU will get better working and living conditions, including a minimum wage and proper accommodation, under a deal between Parliament and member states backed by civil liberties MEPs on Thursday. These rules, aimed at both ending exploitation and preventing temporary stays becoming permanent, are the first at EU level on seasonal work.
Microsoft, Google and Facebook managers denied giving the NSA or any government in the world direct or unfettered access to their servers, at the ninth NSA inquiry hearing on the mass surveillance of EU citizens held at Parliament on Monday. US Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner told MEPs that abuses by the NSA were carried out outside congressional authority. "I hope that we have learned our lesson and that oversight will be a lot more vigorous," he said.
The European Parliament should use its powers to reconsider EU-US data transfer deals and push for the creation of a European privacy cloud, EU-level protection for whistleblowers and a strong judicial authorisation of surveillance activities, data protection and intelligence experts told MEPs at the eighth Civil Liberties Committee hearing on surveillance of EU citizens. Creating a European Intelligence Service is not a solution, they added.
The EU would offer better working and living conditions for non-EU students, researchers, trainees, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs, as a way to boost member states' competitiveness, thanks to draft rules amended by the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday. MEPs propose that researchers and students should be able to stay in the EU one and a half extra years to set up a firm or search for a job. They also propose stricter deadlines for deciding on applications.
Non-EU seasonal workers will get better working and living conditions, including a minimum wage and proper accommodation, under a draft law provisionally agreed by Parliament and the Council Presidency and backed by national governments on Tuesday. These rules, aiming both to end exploitation and to prevent temporary stays becoming permanent, are to be put to a plenary vote in January 2014.The EU Commission estimates that over 100,000 third-country seasonal workers come to the EU every year.
A major overhaul of current EU data protection rules, to put people in control of their personal data while at the same time making it easier for companies to move across Europe, was voted by the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday. Responding to mass surveillance cases, MEPs inserted stronger safeguards for data transfers to non-EU countries. They also inserted an explicit consent requirement, a right to erasure, and bigger fines for firms that break the rules.
Citizens of Colombia, Peru and the United Arab Emirates should be able to travel to the Schengen area without a visa, said the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday, amending a draft update of the EU visa regulation to this effect. The Commission's initial proposal envisaged a visa waiver only for citizens of five Caribbean island nations, 10 Pacific island nations and Timor-Leste.
Mass storage of EU citizens' personal data clearly contravenes international, Council of Europe and EU laws, experts told the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday, at the 7th inquiry hearing on US and EU countries' surveillance schemes. MEPs debated various means of redress for citizens and heard from European privacy organisations that have brought those behind surveillance activities to justice.