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Parliamentary questions
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7 May 2010
E-3190/10
WRITTEN QUESTION E-3190/10
by Alexander Alvaro (ALDE)
to the Commission

 Subject: INDECT — Article 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights
 Answer in writing 

In 2008 the Commission allocated EUR 1.4 billion from the EU budget to security research. Accordingly, one of the projects to receive funding under the 7th Framework Programme for Research is INDECT (Intelligent information system supporting observation, searching and detection for security of citizens in urban environment), which has been allotted EUR 10.91 million. Since the beginning of 2009, INDECT has been working on developing a platform for the registration and exchange of operational data with a view to automatic detection of threats and recognition of abnormal behaviour, to be operated in combination with various surveillance technologies. Individual monitoring instruments which already exist, such as video cameras, data retention, tracking of mobile phones, facial recognition or telephone tapping, could thus be grouped together in a single surveillance programme.

A person's identity can be ascertained by combining data from surveillance cameras and sound recording equipment with data from the Internet. These are personal data. Has provision been made for the recorded data to be used for identification purposes only where there are genuine grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed? Is this decision made by people, i.e. security staff? Are such considerations even part of INDECT's research remit? If not, are they a matter for the Member State authorities alone?

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union entered into force at the same time as the Lisbon Treaty. Article 8 of the Charter stipulates that personal data may be processed only ‘for specified purposes’. Does the Charter actually cover the use by the Member States of the technology currently being researched? If so, does the monitoring of audiovisual material in combination with personal data from the Internet not infringe the Charter of Fundamental Rights?

Similar questions arise in relation to Article 7, which states that everyone has the ‘right to respect for his or her […] communications’. If it is the case that the Charter of Fundamental Rights does not apply because the technology being researched is used only by the Member States, does the funding of such research from the EU budget still not go against the spirit of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. After all, does the EU's funding of the INDECT project not help facilitate the use of such technologies, even if they are not employed by EU institutions or regulated by EU directives?

Original language of question: DEOJ C 138 E, 07/05/2011
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