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NEW Reuters story (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 5 Dec 1998 23:50:55 +0000
From: Dave Bird <[email protected]>
Reply-To: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: NEW Reuters story

In article <[email protected]>, Brown, R
Ken <[email protected]> writes
   [sent to crytpo list, and to CIV LIBS DISCUSS]

Yahoo! News
Thursday 3 December 1998 12:38 PM ET

Europe readies police techno-surveillance law

By Niall McKay

SAN FRANCISCO (Wired) - The European Union is quietly getting ready to
approve legislation that will allow the police to eavesdrop both on
Internet conversations and Iridium satellite telephone calls without
obtaining court authorization.

The legislation is part of a much wider memorandum of understanding
between the EU, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Norway, a
nonmember European nation. That agreement allows authorities to conduct
telecom surveillance across international borders, according to a
Europol document leaked to members of the European Parliament.

``Security measures are often necessary in the cases of terrorism or
organized crime,'' said Glyn Ford, a member of the European Parliament
for the British Labour Party and a director of the EU's Civil Liberties
and Internal Affairs Committee. ''But what we need is some sort of
democratic control. It seems to me that many security services are a law
unto themselves.''

That will presumably be a topic of discussion when the European Council
of Ministers meets behind closed doors Thursday to update a 1995 wiretap
agreement known as the Legal Interception of Telecommunications

If approved, it would permit real-time, remote monitoring of email, as
well as of calls placed on satellite telephone networks such as those
maintained by Iridium and Globalstar. Unlike most laws in Europe, the
agreement will allow law enforcement to listen in without a court order.

``This is a US export,'' said Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic
Privacy Information Center. ``It's a European version of the
Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act.'' The act,
passed in 1984, was intended to allow law enforcers to tap the digital
lines of tomorrow, just as they tap analog phone lines now.

Ironically, in September, the European Parliament called for account-
ability of Echelon, the US National Security Agency's spying network
that is reportedly able to intercept, record, and translate any
electronic communication-telephone, data, cellular, fax, email, or

Under European law, representatives of each member nation can pass
legally binding resolutions. Further, the resolutions don't require the
approval of either the European Parliament or the individual parliaments
of EU members.

Many European Parliament members are outraged that the Council of
Ministers has been acting in secret. They are especially concerned about
the inclusion of non-EU nations in the agreement.

Patricia McKenna, a representative for Britain's Green Party, will raise
the issue in Parliament this week. She also intends to ask Europe's
Justice and Internal Affairs Council to ''justify the secrecy and lack
of consultation surrounding these initiatives.''

McKenna is requesting what she described as an ``open debate on the
crucial and far-reaching measures, with enormous potential impact in the
realm of privacy.''

Another member of the European Parliament believes that the so-called
``update resolutions'' will have staggering implications for personal

``This legislation is not just a technical update,'' said Johannes
Voggenhuber, an Austrian representative for the European
Parliament. ``It places the onus on the telecommunications carrier to
provide a watertight back door to police.''

The European Council for General Security prepared the amendment with
technical assistance from the FBI, according to the Europol document

The four major satellite telephone operators-Iridium, Globalstar,
Odyssey, and ICO-will be required by the law to provide access to
European law enforcement through ground stations in France, Italy,
England, and Germany.

Iridium officials could not be reached for comment.

It is unclear how the memorandum of understanding will affect US

``I find it very hard to believe that a foreign nation-any foreign
nation-could eavesdrop on US citizens,'' said John Pike, a
security analyst with the Federation of American Scientists.

``It's one thing for the FBI to try and track terrorists across
international borders, but it's entirely another to let Europeans
tap US citizens' telephones.''

The FBI would neither confirm nor deny any relationship between the
United States and the other nations involved in the memorandum of
understanding. However, Rotenberg said such provisions are already in
place under the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act.

While the new European law is being sold to EU member states as a means
of combating what the legislation calls ``serious and organized'' crime,
there is no clear definition of this phrase.

``It simply concerns any punishable offense,'' said Tony Bunyan,
director of Statewatch, a European civil liberties group.


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