EU considers halting anti-terrorism data sharing

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EU considers halting anti-terrorism data sharing

Anger grows over US spying allegations.

European fury over revelations that United States has been bugging EU premises is intensifying, with politicians calling for anti-terrorism data sharing deals to be suspended and greater safeguards to be introduced.

Members of the European Parliament debated the US NSA-run PRISM and other surveillance programmes, expressing serious concerns over them.

The MEPs passed a resolution carried by 483 votes to 98 (65 abstentions) that condemned the spying on EU legations and called on the US to provide full information on the surveillance programmes.

To persuade the US to cooperate and provide the information requested, the MEPs want the European Commission, Council of Ministers and member countries to consider suspending data sharing deals set up after the September 2011 terrorist attacks on New York City.

These include the airline Passenger Name Record and banking Terrorist Finance Tracking programmes.

An inquiry will be held over the surveillance by the Civil Liberties Committee, gathering evidence from both the US and EU countries, to find out if the surveillance activities impact on European citizens' right to privacy, data protection, freedom of expression, the presumption of innocence and the right to an effective remedy, MEPs said.

The European Parliament noted that it was not just the US that conducted large-scale surveillance, and expressed grave concerns about similar schemes operated by Britain, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany and Poland.

In the resolution, MEPs urged member states to examine if such spying was compatible with EU law.

At a separate plenary session, the European Parliament adopted EU-wide rules that provide for tougher penalties on cyber criminals.

Botnet operators are now looking at at least three years imprisonment and attacks on critical infrastructure will be punished by five years in jail. Hiring hackers will also be penalised, either by exclusion from public benefits or closure of establishment, the EU Parliament said in the resolution.

An eight hour response deadline to cyber attacks will be introduced in the EU to make police cooperation more effective.

The cybercrime resolution with draft directive was passed by 541 votes to 91 with 9 abstentions. Britain and Ireland have adopted the directive which builds on rules that have been in force since 2005, but Denmark said it would not be bound by it.

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