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Home arrow newsitems arrow Track EUPeople (after Exposing them to Virus Import): CoE+NGOs+Snowden warn v.Orwell Risk=>EU Frame?

Track EUPeople (after Exposing them to Virus Import): CoE+NGOs+Snowden warn v.Orwell Risk=>EU Frame?

Written by ACM
Thursday, 09 April 2020
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*Strasbourg/Angelo Marcopolo/(Partly UpDated)- EU Citizens may soon face a Risky Paradox : After having been practicaly Abandoned, withOut Any Protection, vis a vis Massive Infections imported from NW Italy's initial Deadly Virus' Hotspot, since several EU Governments did Not Monitor at all the endangered Borders, (Contrary to what China succesfully did vis a vis its Wuhan Region, similar to Lombardy, which was Tightly Quarantined: See http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/delaytoprotecteupeoplefromvirus.html, etc), Now they are threatened to be ...themselves Monitored in their EveryDay Private Lives, Spied even on their Individual Movements and Contacts, Health condition, etc., under Pretext to limit a Further Spread of the Virus !

- Already, CoE Assembly's new President, Rik Daems from Belgium (Liberal), Warned, on this occasion, against a Risk to "Open the Door to an <<Orwellian>> Future of Constant Personal Surveillance, Following our Every Move, for UnKnown and UnAccountable Purposes", as he said in a Press Release just send to "Eurofora" by PACE's Press Service in Strasbourg, (See also Infra).

- Indeed, as independent Web Freedom Watchdog "Electronic Frontier Foundation" NGO cautioned, currently, "Governments around the World are demanding Extraordinary new Surveillnce Powers", allegedly "to fight the Virus", Urging also a Close Scrutiny on New Links between some Governments and certain Private Companies that popped up out of the Pandemic, (f.ex. Telephone Companies, Internet access Providers, SpyWare Manufactors, Social Medias Networks, etc).

+ In Addition, World Famous WhistleBlower Edward Snowden, who risked his Job and Freedom in order to Denounce a Global Massive Surveillance mecanism by Secret Services, (Comp. Snowden's Replies to "Eurofora" Questions earlier at: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/snowdenfriendshelpwhistleblowers.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/snowdenlaughonlongmuellerspyingtrump.html, etc) has just Warned that, even "Five years later the coronavirus is gone, this data's still available to them — they start looking for new things... They already know what you're Looking at on the Internet, they already know where your Phone is Moving, now they know what your Heart rate is" (f.ex. by Spying a "Fitness Tracker", etc). "What happens when they start to interMix these, and apply artificial intelligence to them ?"

- Yesterday, CoE's Rapporteur on WhistleBlowers, and vice-President of the French National Assembly, Sylvain Wasserman, from Strasbourg's area, (Comp. Earlier Replies by Wasserman to "Eurofora"s questions, f.ex., at: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/whistleblowersineuandcoe.html, +http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/snowdenfriendshelpwhistleblowers.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coerapporteurforassangeprotection.html, etc), stressed that, as a matter of Principle, Nowadays "It is Vital we improve the Protection of Whistle-blowers both during and after the CoronaVirus Crisis". Because, "Times of Crisis show that we need them to Safeguard our fundamental Rights such as Freedom of Expression and Information, but we also need them to enable us to prepare for and manage such situations more effectively". Thus, inter alia, “Whistle-blowers can also Help to Prevent or Correct State Failures during the current Crisis. They are therefore an Essential cog in the wheel of our Democracies, and their Protection is a Measure of how Democratic we are".

=> In Consequence, Wasserman "fully Support(ed) the Initiative taken by NGOs to ...Improve the Protection of Whistle-Blowers ot only during the Crisis, but Also once it is behind us", including "Transarency International", the "European Federation of Journalists" and the "Media Development Center", "Government Accountability Project", the Universities of Griffith (Australia), Maastricht, Middlesex, Ryerson and Greenwich, "International Bar Association", "European Centre for Press and Media Freedom", "EuroCadres", "European Public Service Union", "European Organisation of Military Associations and Trade Unions", "Council of European Professional and Managerial Staff", "WhistleBlowing International Network", etc., who recently launched a "Coalition to make WhistleBlowing Safe, during COVID-19 and Beyond".

- "The signatories ... call(ed) on all public authorities and institutions to Protect those who Report or expose the Harms, Abuses and serious Wrongdoing that arise during this period of Crisis caused by the COVID19 Pandemic", and "encourage(d) all Citizens and Workers to participate in ensuring our Governments, Corporate institutions and markets remain Accountable, and in Defending the Human Rights and freedoms", as "the Need for regular and Reliable Information", as well as "the importance of Accountability" are Now "Brought into Stark Relief", since "Speak about Threats to Public Health and Safety, Corruption and other Abuses", added to "their Disclosures", "are Vital to Preventing Major Disasters and reducing the Impacts of the crisis ..., especially on the most Vulnerable members of society and our Democratic systems", particularly "when Decisions are taken in Emergency conditions, often Away from Democratic Scrutiny", since "the use of Extraordinary Powers by governments, withOut proper public Oversight and Transparency creates a tangible Risk of overreach and potential Misuse".

- Indeed, "we have Already seen examples of Wrongdoing and Mismanagement in our public Institutions, commercial Markets and Business as a result of COVID-19. Emerging areas of Concern include Health System Capacity and delivery" (f.ex. Masks, ICT, Ventilators, etc), "public Procurement, violations of health and safety and labor law, inequitable and ill-prepared global Supply chains, ... and significant Violations of personal Privacy rights at scale, through the Digital Tracking of individuals", the NGOs Denounced.

Already, f.ex., New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo notoriously called the CoronaVirus' Crisis as "Worse than 9/11" Massive Barbaric Killings of Thousands of innocent Civilian People, and everybody knows that this was soon Followed, in the recent Past, by various US Government's Exceptional Measures, including, particularly, on Mass and Individual Spying, (that many Criticized as Excessive), etc...

=> F.ex., in South Korea several massive attempts to Track Individuals, in relation to the Virus, through the GeoLocalisation of their Mobile Phones were reportedly made, including SMS Alerts for Contacts with Infected People, while in Taiwan Police is autiomaticaly alerted if Quarantined patients move Outside of their Homes, and from China come also Reports about Individual Mobile Codes being Tracked when Entering several Private Residences, Public Areas, Super Markets, Collective Gardens, etc, added to Singapore's SmartPhone App Tracking People who may have been Exposed.

- In Iran, the Government reportedly pushed Citizens to download an App available at Google's Play Store which registered their device, collEcting Contact and Location details, (but, when this was Denounced by a Researcher, Google removed that app, and the Iranian Government blamed the Officials responsible for that, ensuring the People that No Private Lines were crossed)...

- At the West, already in Poland citizens under Quarantine have to download a government App that mandates they respond to periodic requests for "Selfies".  The UK Government is reportedly talking with Private Companies about Phone and Contacts Tracking, without being clear if this might concern Individuals who are Quarantined or Everybody, using Private Data or only Anonymized and Aggregated Data, Secretly or Openly. USA's Kansas Governor reportedly uses Phone Data of Infected People and GeoLocalisation, although it seems that those Data might, eventually, be Anonymised and Aggregated. Germany and some Other EU Countries are, in parallel, reportedly planning to use also Mobile Phone Data, but Only Anonymized and Aggregated for Maps. However, in Israel, a new Law has just allowed the Government to impose Mobile Phone Tracking of Infected People, and Alert those Contacting them, as well as to Enforce Quarantine Orders. But on Canada much Worse Concerns were expressed when controverial "Socialist" Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reportedly "did Not Exlude" that the Government might use telecom Data to Track all Canadians' compliance with Pandemic Measures in the foreseable future, (Expanding that issue, soon After French-speaking Quebec's Premier, Francois Legault, had recently spoken about Tracking past Movements of Infected People, by using their Phones). In France, President Macron is due to announce new Measures on Monday, and many consider that he may include also Mobile Phone's Data related to Massive Confinement, (as, Already, its Government reportedly Tested a relevant App, and the JHA Ministry has just Started to Invite People to Inform its Website about their planned individual Movements, by filling a special Form with their Mobile Phone Numbers and Personal Data, while promising that these won't be stored !)...   

+ EU Commissioner in charge of the Common Market, Thierry Breton, from France, (UpDated), has just reportedly spoken about such possible Mobile Phone Tracking linked to the Virus throughout the EU, but vowed that it should be Not Linked to any "Sanctions", be "Voluntary", and used "Only by Health Authorities", under "Conditions" due to be determined asap. In Parallel, EU Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee's President, Juan Fernandez Lopez Aguilar, (a "Socialist" MEP from Spain), stressed that, at any case, "even in these Difficult Times, EU's basic Rules on Personal Data Protection and "E-Privacy" should remain in force and be respected".

=> It's in this Fast-Moving and Slipery-slope Context, that PanEuropean CoE Assembly's new President, Rik Daems, (a "Liberal" from Belgium : Comp. Supra), noted that, since "Until enough people have been Vaccinated against this CoronaVirus", (i.e. more than a Year Later, according to Technocrats, while Simple and Fast-Track eventual Treatments, as HCQ, are still Blocked f.ex. in France and elsehere), "we must Limit its Spread. ONE" (Not the Only) "Way is to Track-and-trace Infected people and those whom they Meet".

- "But this has Huge Privacy Implications and will Need very Careful Regulation to ensure respect for Human rights and the rule of Law". Because, "in defeating one evil, we must Not open the door to an Orwellian future", he Warned.

=> "Fortunately, we have common (Pan-)European standards (for all the 47 CoE's Member States, including Russia) on this,” he optimistically observed. In particular :  

- (1) “The European Convention on Human Rights requires Surveillance measures to have a Legal basis and be Necessary and Proportionate to their Goal", placed under ECHR's Judicial Monitoring.

 + (2) Moreover, "Automated data collection, Processing and Storage should satisfy the standards of the recently modernised Convention 108+" on Personal Data Protection.

++ (3) "States must Ensure that these requirements are Met BEFORE Track-and-trace Measures are Introduced, and" (probably most Important) "must establish Public TRUST in them, FROM THE OUTSET”, he urged.

+++ (4) Last, but not least, “Exceptional Crises justify Exceptional Measures, But they must be LIMITED to the OBJECTIVE, in SCOPE and TIME and comply with Fundamental Rights" of the People, Instead of a "Constant Personal Surveillance, Following our Every Move, for UnKnown and UnAccountable Purposes", President Daems stressed today.

=> It's in these circumstances that, inter alia, French mainstream Center-Right Opposition "Republican" Party (ChristianDemocrats/EPP) Top Official Bruno Retailleau has just send a Letter to President Macron Warning him that such a Political Decision, as an eventual imposal of Massive "Tracking", (even on any Citizens' access to his/her Workplace, a Doctor, Grocery Store, a short Promenade solo, or to Help an Elderly person, etc), would be "Formidably Risky" and complicated !

- In particular, for Retailleau, it would also become Useless, if France was UnAble to ensure a Massive prior Testing (of that Virus' Infections), as well as a Generalized use of protective Masks", (a Big Controversy here, as French Officials have, until recently, Claimed that normal Masks would Not be Appropriate for Citizens,  But Reserved Only to relevant Public Authorities' Agents : Medical staff, Police, etc)...

+=> "I am Asking him (President Macron) to provide Guarantees on Security and (Personal) Liberty", and to carefully measure all Immplications, Retailleau stressed, shortly Before the forthcoming Official Announcements.

Naturally, it Remains to be seen Whether the relevant National and European Legal and Political bodies, as well as International Human Rights Organisations, and, (mainly) the Majority of the People, could be Convinced, or Not.

Particularly when Crucial Local (2020) and Regional (2021) Elections are Soon followed, in a straight line, even by Decisive Presidential and Legislative Elections (2022) in France, (well Before the Culmination of EU-wide Elections on 2024)...

 

 

(../..)

 

("Draft-News")

 

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Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, speaking  to "EuroFora", denied rumors on Turkey's attempts to avoid an EU check of its obligations on Cyprus on December 2009 by blackmailing Nicosia to either accept any deal with intransigeant Turkish claims contrary to EU values on the island's political issue, or face threats against the territorial integriy of the EU island, semi-occupied by Ankara's army.

On the contrary, the incoming EU President-in-office, speaking exclusively to "EuroFora", promissed that he will act for EU Council's decisions on December 2009 assessment of Turkey's commitments on Cyprus to be kept.


    Bildt was asked to react to Cyprus' President Christofias' denunciation, earlier this week, that some want to exert "pressure" on Cyprus in order for Turkey to escape from its obligations.

    Avoiding to mention any precise Deadline, Bildt, however, warned about "Consequences" in case of "failure" to reunite Cyprus, but without saying whose responsibility an eventual deadlock might be.  

 Asked by "EuroFora" if there is a risk for "Turkey's commitments to "be forgotten or downgraded", "despite crystal-clear EU Council decisions and EU Parliament's latest Resolution on the assessment to make at the end of this year on Turkey's obligations", according to rumours that, instead of pressing Turkey, on the contrary, there might be "pressure on Cyprus", even "blackmail", as Media reported and President Christofias denounced this week, Bildt denied :

- "No ! ", he clearly replied.


- On the contrary, invited by "EuroFora", to "reassure that the Swedish EU Presidency (7-12/2009) will keep a fair stance, based on principles",  Bildt promised that "we (Swedish EU Presidency) will be very clear on all of the decisions taken by the (EU) Council".

He added, however, that "we have very numerous decisions that have been taken" by EU Council, as if he warned, also, on something else.

- "'I am not aware of any sort of statements coming out today''", Bildt started to say, on our reference to Cyprus' President Christofias" denunciation of Turkish lobby's manoeuvers this week, replying earlier to 'another"EuroFora"'s question during a Press Conference at EU Parliament in Strasbourg.


 - '"I know the issues that you' are concerned with'", he added, remembering  the statements he gave us when Sweden was chairing the PanEuropean CoE on 2008.

- "But, obviously, .. I think that Cyprus' Peace negotiations are extremenly important".

- And "'I think that we are at a unique moment in History, in the sens that both (Cyprus') President Christofias and Mr. Talat (the Turkish Cypriot leader), are personally convinced of the need to overcome the division".

 - "It's 20 Years since the fall of Berlin Wal, but we still have a Capital in Europe (Nicosia) that's divided". ,

- 'I don't that we should loose any time in overcoming that"..

 - ''We should be aware of the fact that success will bring great benefits, but failure, will also have major consequences. There will not be Status Quo' " It's a question of seeking a solution, or entering another situation, which is somewhat difficult to see exactly how that could evolve", he warned.

- "That being said, this is a negotiation for Cyprus itself", Bildt admitted.

 - ''We (EU) can support, the (EU) Commission primarily, be technically helpful, and then, of course, there is a specific role for the UN, when it comes to the Cyprus' situation".  

- "At least so far. It might not be for ever'. Certainly not for ever, but for this period of time", Bildt added, skiping now any reference to concrete threats on UNO's Peace keeping force in face of more than 40.000 Ankara's soldiers, contrary to some Press claims, (See previous NewsReports).


     Replying to another "EuroFora"'s Question,  if anyone might attempt to "impose a Deadline for the conclusion" of Cyprus' Talks on December 2009, Bildt avoided to speak of any precise Time-frame, and indirectly evoked the fact that  35 Years of Turkish Invasion/Occupation obviously durated too long :

'- "If I was from Cyprus, I would say that the Deadline was Yesterday ! '",
Bildt concluded.

Cyprus' Government Spokesman, Stephanou, reportedly pointed out that "a settlement is possible on December if Turkey changes its stance", accepting a solution for the reunification of the island based on UNO resolutiona and EU principles.

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Earlier, EU Chair, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeld, highlighted an "historic opportunity" to "re-Unite" Cyprus according to EU's "basic Values"' (i.e. Human Rights) and 'Rules'", in a last-minute change of his draft speech to EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

    The initial Draft spoke only about "healing" the island.

    Significantly, Reinfeldt linked Cyprus' reunification with Turkey's obligations to respect EU's "Values" and "follow" EU's "common Rules" :

    - What is "called Membership Negotiations" should lead, "at- the end of the day", into "sharing a set of common Basic Values (i.e. Human Rights, Democracy, etc), and following common Rules", stressed Reinfeld from the outset.
    
    - "This is something that those on the Outside (of the EU), are now  contemplating", up "to Ankara", for "a solution" on "Cyprus", observed the EU Chairman, immediately afterwards..  

    - "Both sides of Cyprus have been granted a historic opportunity to together reach an agreement on a solution to re-Unite the island, that has been divided for far too long", said Reinfeldt, modifying his draft text.


-  "The Swedish Presidency will act ...in accordance with Commitments EU has made, on the basis of Criteria that apply", "as a Honest Broker", he promised.    

- "To those on the inside (of the EU), allowing the membership process to become an opportunity to solve protracted disputes, can be tempting", he added.


    "In such cases, we must find solutions that can benefit both sides, and open up a way forward. Otherwise, it would jeopardize the progress we have made towards EU integration", Reinfeldt said.

***

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