EU Law Enforcement Preps To Start Sharing Sensitive Data With A Number Of Human Rights Abusers

from the gotta-destroy-lives-to-save-lives-I-guess dept

The EU Commission made a lot of noise about protecting the data of European citizens, resulting in the passage of a law that's almost impossible to avoid breaking. I guess those protections won't be extended to anyone a number of governments consider to be threats to national security. Even worse, this data will be shared with governments known for executing their critics. (h/t War On Privacy)

European Union officials have begun talks with counterparts in several Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt and Turkey, about proposed data-sharing deals that would allow Europol to exchange personal information about suspects with local law enforcement authorities.

In some circumstances, the deals could allow the transfer of data concerning a person’s race and ethnic origin, their political opinions and religious beliefs, trade-union memberships, genetic data and data concerning their health and sex life.

The deals are being sought by the EU as part of efforts to bolster counter-terrorism policing across the continent despite concerns being raised about the human rights records of the countries by the bloc’s own data protection watchdog.

When someone starts talking about terrorism and national security, all rational thought goes out the window. The EU will share data with Egypt, which recently made the news for executing nine people who claimed their "confessions" were tortured out of them.

Turkey isn't much of an improvement, seeing how its government also likes to jail critics -- going so far as to use other countries' laws against foreigners to punish non-Turkish citizens for insulting the president.

It's hard to see how all of the data being shared is relevant to multi-national terrorism investigations. In fact, much of what would be shared seems more like blackmail material than evidence tying people to terrorist groups or acts. Why else would the EU include data about targets' sex lives?

In normal countries under normal circumstances, data about political and religious affiliations would be off limits, as would medical information and trade union memberships. This isn't a case of creeping totalitarianism. This is full-blown enabling of existing totalitarian states, weaponizing the massive amount of data European law enforcement agencies collect on investigation targets.

The EU Commission claims this set of very personal data will only be disclosed if Europol believes it should be. Not very reassuring.

“The transfer of personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade-union membership, genetic data and data concerning a person's health and sex life by Europol shall be prohibited, unless it is strictly necessary and proportionate in individual cases for preventing or combating criminal offences as referred to in the Agreement and subject to appropriate safeguards,” the directives say.

The same EU government that condemned Egypt's ongoing human rights abuses has no problem giving it data ammo to use against critics, dissidents, and activists. It seems like the claims about "appropriate safeguards" will be ignored if Europol feels the data it could obtain from other countries necessitates increased quid pro quo. Whatever oversight Europol has is probably no better than any other massive law enforcement/counter-terrorist agency, which usually ranges from slim to none.

Human rights abuses aren't going to stop as long as major nation-states continue to treat abusive governments as equals on the national security playing field. Just as certainly as Turkey has weaponized US-based social media moderation tools to silence critics, other governments seeking to permanently silence critics will weaponize this proposed data sharing to achieve the same ends. The world won't be any safer, but it might be just a bit more silent.

Filed Under: data sharing, egypt, eu, law enforcement, personal information, privacy, turkey


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  • identicon
    TFG, 27 Feb 2019 @ 7:12am

    Suspects

    Note the word "suspects" - aka, these people whose information will be shared may not even have a conviction.

    Hail hypocrisy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 10:58am

    Your "rational thought" never includes Israel.

    When someone starts talking about terrorism and national security, all rational thought goes out the window. The EU will share data with Egypt, which recently made the news for executing nine people who claimed their "confessions" were tortured out of them.

    Right next to Egypt is the country that Techdirt NEVER criticizes. With which the EU is sharing data despite that Israel murdered several hundred people in last year, and wounded about ten thousand others, just for being near the apartheid wall to protest it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      TFG, 27 Feb 2019 @ 12:04pm

      Re: Your "rational thought" never includes Israel.

      Right next to Egypt is the country that Techdirt NEVER criticizes.

      The problem with absolute statements like this is that a single example invalidates them. Did you know that you can search Techdirt for stories about a thing?

      Here's some stories tagged with Israel: https://www.techdirt.com/blog/?tag=israel

      And, oh look, there's this little gem:

      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180102/12230538910/facebook-allowing-israeli-security-force s-to-shape-news-palestineans-see.shtml

      Excerpt from the article: "While Facebook has fought back against government overreach in the United States, it seems less willing to do so in other countries. The reporting tools it provides to users are abused by governments to stifle critics and control narratives. And that's on top of the direct line it opens to certain governments, which are used to expedite censorship. That's what's happening in Israel, as Glenn Greenwald reports:"

      Would you look at that. It's an article critical of censorship actions directed by the Israeli government. What a shocker.

      Care to amend your statement to something more defensible?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2019 @ 12:20pm

      Re: Your "rational thought" never includes Israel.

      It's kind of needles to say anything about Israel as long as EU still bootlicks burger imperialists and we all know that what's USAs is Israels.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 27 Feb 2019 @ 2:26pm

    Old ideal that should be stomped.

    Lets see..
    WE the people..We the this that and every thing good..
    Can do no wrong..
    But If we need, we can send you someplace where those rules/laws/regs/customs DO NOT ABIDE..

    And 1 hell of a way to keep your spy's loyal..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    sumwon, 27 Feb 2019 @ 2:51pm

    i think europe is caught between a rock and a hard place here. they need this information to identify and screen the millions of refugees and immigrants that have made it into europe. data about political and religious affiliations is supremely relevant in that circumstance. the problem is that no country is going to agree to a one way transfer of information, and in a situation like this, countries like turkey and egypt have a much better negotiating position.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DocGerbil100, 27 Feb 2019 @ 6:14pm

    Umm...

    Perhaps I'm being thicker than the escaped lovechild of Donald Trump Jr and a PE teacher for asking, but...

    ... exactly how does Europol - a criminal counter-intelligence unit - come to have all this information on "political opinions and religious beliefs, trade-union memberships, genetic data and data concerning their health and sex life" and why do they need it in the first place?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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