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Report: limited oversight on intelligence services in Cyprus

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has published a report mapping member states’ legal frameworks when it comes to surveillance by intelligence services and the fundamental rights’ safeguards and remedies in the EU.

The report outlines how intelligence services are organised, describes the various forms surveillance measures can take and presents member states’ laws on surveillance.

A review of the legal frameworks shows that almost all member states with the exception of Cyprus and Portugal have codified their use into law. In Cyprus, a bill regulating the intelligence service’s functioning is under discussion.

The report said Slovenia and Cyprus were the two member states whose heads of intelligence services were nominated and/or appointed by the executive. Cyprus, Greece and Sweden were the three countries that had not set up specific parliamentary committees but rather relied on standing committees with broader remits carrying very limited oversight on intelligence services.

The agency said that protecting the public from genuine threats to security and safeguarding fundamental rights involved a delicate balance, and had become a particularly complex challenge in recent years.

“Terror attacks worldwide have triggered broad measures allowing intelligence services to cast ever-wider nets in the hope of preventing further violence,” said agency director Constantinos Manolopoulos in the report’s foreword.

“At the same time, the digital age has produced technological innovations facilitating large-scale communications data monitoring – which could easily be abused,” he added.

He said the Snowden revelations, which uncovered extensive and indiscriminate surveillance efforts worldwide, highlighted that violations of these rights were not merely a theoretical concern.

“The research findings presented in this report demonstrate the complex considerations involved in safeguarding fundamental rights in the context of surveillance,” said Manolopoulos. “Finding a balance between national security protection and respect for fundamental rights is a challenge that requires thorough and candid discussion. This report contributes to that discussion.”

The full report can be found here: http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/fra-2015-surveillance-intelligence-services_en.pdf

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