EU counter-terrorism policy

Mass surveillance will not make Europe more secure

In the wake of several terrorist attacks on European soil, EU interior ministers met in an informal meeting on counter-terrorism in Riga. Ahead of the meeting, a leaked document confirmed that the European Commission is seeking to tweak and retable a stalled legislative proposal on a European air passenger data system (PNR). During the debate Wednesday, Green home affairs spokesperson, Jan Philipp Albrecht, said mass surveillance of EU citizens was not only a misuse of money and a breach of civil liberties, but would not lead to better security for European citizens. Even before the Paris attacks, it was possible for police and security forces to know who is on which plane, with the Advanced Passenger Information system. Focus should be on known threats and risks, rather than on mass surveillance and blanket data retention of everyone. Pouring hundreds of millions of euros into mass surveillance will only deliver a false sense of security. Instead, this money should be used to strengthen police and security personal at local, regional and European level. Security personnel need the means to be able to connect the dots and to set up joint investigation teams at European level. The European Court of Justice last year declared blanket mass surveillance measures as incompatible with EU fundamental rights. It would therefore be unthinkable that the Commission try to force a PNR scheme based on blanked data collection. MEPs will vote on this file in Strasbourg in February.

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