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Mass surveillance is counter-productive and ‘endangers human rights’

PACE’s Legal Affairs Committee has said that the mass surveillance practices disclosed by US whistleblower Edward Snowden “endanger fundamental human rights” and divert resources that might prevent terrorist attacks.

Approving a draft resolution based on a report by Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands, EPP/CD), the committee said: “Mass surveillance does not appear to have contributed to the prevention of terrorist attacks, contrary to earlier assertions made by senior intelligence officials. Instead, resources that might prevent attacks are diverted to mass surveillance, leaving potentially dangerous persons free to act.”

It also called for:

  • the collection of personal data without consent only following “a court order granted on the basis of reasonable suspicion”
  • “credible, effective protection” for whistle-blowers exposing unlawful surveillance
  • better judicial and parliamentary control of intelligence services
  • an “intelligence codex” defining mutual obligations that secret services could opt into 
  • an inquiry into member states’ use of mass surveillance using powers under the European Convention on Human Rights

The report is due to be debated by the full plenary Assembly in April.