Join statewatch e-mail list   
SEARCH Statewatch database   
    ISSN 1756-851X
    21 January 2018

Statewatch: News home page

News Online - current lead stories
Top 20 stories - See: Statewatch News or: What's New (all new items) and: Refugee crisis: Observatory
Follow us: | | Tweet

Support our work: Become a "Friend of Statewatch"
Finding Your Voice: Forget About Siri and Alexa — When It Comes to Voice Identification, the “NSA Reigns Supreme” (The Intercept, link):

"These and other classified documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA has developed technology not just to record and transcribe private conversations but to automatically identify the speakers.(...)

The technology works by analyzing the physical and behavioral features that make each person’s voice distinctive, such as the pitch, shape of the mouth, and length of the larynx. An algorithm then creates a dynamic computer model of the individual’s vocal characteristics. This is what’s popularly referred to as a “voiceprint.” The entire process — capturing a few spoken words, turning those words into a voiceprint, and comparing that representation to other “voiceprints” already stored in the database — can happen almost instantaneously."


"The table immediately below sets out details of the Special Demonstration Squad officers whose cover names have been confirmed by the Inquiry. It will be updated as further details can be published.

The details given of groups/areas of deployment are provisional, and are provided to enable members of the public to identify whether they may have known officers who were deployed undercover and to prevent cases of mistaken identity. (...)

As the former Chairman said in his opening remarks, all those with relevant evidence to give about the deployment of any of these officers are encouraged to contact the Inquiry in confidence. If you had contact with any of the following undercover police officers whilst they were using the cover names set out below then we would like to hear from you. Please see the contacts page for ways to get in touch with the Inquiry in confidence.:"

Military intelligence for Europol (link):

"The EU plans to strengthen the linkages between its internal and external security structures. In future, military information will increasingly be used in combating terrorism and organised crime. Cooperation is being tested first in the field of migration.

The European Union is planning the establishment of "Crime Information Cells“ (CIC) for the exchange of data between the police, military and secret services. The intention of the players involved is to reinforce the “external dimension of internal security”.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-17.1.18) including: camps: protest in Bamberg, Germany; Greek conditions "horrific", Macron says never again to camps in Calais

UN: "Facts and evidence", not "panic and fearmongering", required in online radicalisation debate

A global review of recent research on the "online violent radicalisation" of young people has found that there is a "scarcity" of empirical enquiries and the issue "has yet to attract a critical mass of studies for the research to be credible in its conclusions and recommendations."

UK-EU: Brexit doesn't mean Brexit for migration control initiatives: UK to stay on Khartoum Process steering committee

Despite the UK's foreseen departure from the EU in March 2019 it plans to remain on the steering committee of the Khartoum Process, an EU-funded migration control initiative that involves partnerships with dictatorships such as Egypt, Eritrea and Sudan.

EU: Resisting Ill Democracies in Europe: new study provides "practices and strategies for civil society"

"From emerging democracies in transition, illiberal governments have rapidly transformed Hungary and Poland into ill democracies, have attempted to do so in Croatia, and are slowly and carefully entertaining an illiberal platform in Serbia, according to the new case study Resisting Ill Democracies in Europe."

Italy/Sudan: ASGI and ARCI appeal against mass deportation to Sudan deemed admissible by the ECtHR

At a press conference in Rome's Federation of the Italian Press (FNSI) on 11 January 2018, lawyers of the Associazione Studi Giuridici sull'Immigrazione (ASGI) and members of ARCI (vice-president Filippo Miraglia and Sara Prestianni, in charge of its observatory on externalization), spoke about the case they brought before the European Court of Human Rights, after it was admitted.

Lawyer Salvatore Fachile, who submitted the case, noted that there were numerous violations of the ECHR regarding the expulsion of over forty Sudanese citizens from Italy in August 2016, and that the case was submitted following a mission the following December by ASGI lawyers alongside Sara Prestianni and some MEPs during which they met five of the deportees.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-14.1.18)

UK: Biometric database advances raise major issues of control and accountability

The total number of DNA profiles held by the police in the UK at 31 December 2016 was:6,530,647.and Number of fingerprints held on IDENT 1 for all forces as at 30 September 2016: Arrest Records: 23,836,130 and Subject Ten-Print Fingerprints: 7,962,091.

"big data’ will change the relationship between the citizen and the state in a country that has sometimes thought of freedom as having a civil realm over which the state has minimal knowledge or control; that privacy and liberty are conjoined. As in the specific case of facial images discussed above, these developments have been the subject of little public or Parliamentary scrutiny and it is unclear under what governance arrangements they will operate.."

UK: Surveillance Camera Commissioner: Annual Report 2016/17 (pdf):

"The future capabilities of surveillance camera systems is a key theme within this report. The advent of integrated surveillance technologies (cameras, sensors, analytics, biometrics, smart systems) means that the ability of the State and indeed the commercial sector to physically and intrusively track the citizen in public spaces is well and truly upon us."

EU: Civil Liberties Committee divided over dual status and inclusion of facial images on new database of third country nationals convicted of a crime in the EU

On Thursday 11 January the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE)discussed its negotiating position on: On a Regulation establishing a centralised system for the identification of Member States holding conviction information on third country nationals and stateless persons (TCN) to supplement and support the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS-TCN system) (pdf). The Committee was divided on two major issues: inclusion of those with dual status and the inclusion of facial images on the central database.

EU: Eurodac: Austria dismisses fundamental concerns over coercive fingerprinting of six-year-olds

  • Letter from human rights organisations offered cursory reply
  • Council proposals for Eurodac database would see all Member States introduce "administrative sanctions including the possibility to use menas of coercion... for non-compliance with providing biometric data"

After EU agencies jointly test maritime surveillance drones, Frontex moves on to aerostats

The use of drones and manned aircraft for maritime and border surveillance was a key focus of a recently-concluded pilot project involving Frontex, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA).

Council of the European Union: Return of Ethiopians, Cybercrime, Legal Migration, Money-laundering and Eurojust

Including: Admission procedures for the return of Ethiopians from European Union Member States (LIMIITE doc no: 15762-17, pdf): Note this is not a readmission agreement (to which the European Parliament would have to agree).

PNR for all: UN Security Council mandates worldwide air travel surveillance and profiling, biometric collection, terrorist watchlists

In the name of "preventing, detecting and investigating terrorist offenses and related travel," all UN Member States must develop systems for processing and analysing Passenger Name Record (PNR), Advance Passenger Information (API) and "fingerprints, photographs, facial recognition, and other relevant identifying biometric data", according to a UN Security Council resolution (no. 2396) agreed on 21 December 2017.

Council of the European Union: EU-Africa, European Investigation Order, Radicalisation and SIRENE-SIS

EU-TURKEY DODGY DEAL: Letters between the Commission and the Turkish and Greek governments April-July 2016 (ordered as in the pdf):

1. Letter to Commission from Permanent Delegation of Turkey in EU (12 April 2016)
2. Letter from the Director General of the Commission to Greek government (5 May 2016)
3. Letter from the Director General of the Commission to Greek government (27 April 2016)
4. Letter to Commission from Permanent Delegation of Turkey in EU (24 April 2016)
5. Letter from Commissioner for EU DG Home to Greek Alternate Minister for Migration (29 July 2016)

Hungary: Release Ahmed H and stop abusing terrorism laws (Amnesty, link):

"Ahmed has been labelled a terrorist and jailed for 10 years after using a megaphone to call for calm during clashes at the Hungarian border... Does this sound like terrorism to you?"

PNR for all: UN Security Council mandates worldwide air travel surveillance and profiling, biometric collection, terrorist watchlists

In the name of "preventing, detecting and investigating terrorist offenses and related travel," all UN Member States must develop systems for processing and analysing Passenger Name Record (PNR), Advance Passenger Information (API) and "fingerprints, photographs, facial recognition, and other relevant identifying biometric data", according to a UN Security Council resolution (no. 2396) agreed on 21 December 2017.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-7.1.18)

Sicily/Italy/EU/Africa: EU and Italian authorities accused of “system crimes” as court calls for the recognition of migrants as a “people” and as holders of rights (pdf):

"The People’s Permanent Court held a session on the rights of migrants and refugees in Palermo from 18 to 20 December 2017 following a request to do so, and submissions of evidence by over 100 international associations and organisations in Barcelona on 7-8 July 2017.

The session focused extensively on issues including deaths at sea, policies denying hospitality and rights and the externalisation of the EU’s and Italy’s immigration policies to the African coast and mainland, particularly in Libya, with the violence, abuses and deaths this entails."

A. Sivanandan 1923 – 2018 (IRR News, link): A. Sivanandan, the Director Emeritus of the Institute of Race Relations and founding editor of Race & Class has passed away.

"The Institute of Race Relations would like to thank everyone who has sent tributes and messages of condolences following the death of A. Sivanandan on Wednesday 3 January. As his family and friends mourn his passing, we invite you to leave tributes and personal memories below."

See links: Read about A. Sivanandan here
Race & Class: The A. Sivanandan Collection (free to download)
Soundcloud: An interview with A. Sivanandan by Avery Gordon for the 2013 Historical Materialism conference

Top reports

See: Resources for researchers: Statewatch Analyses: 1999-ongoing

SECILE Project:

Borderline: The EU's New Border Surveillance Initiatives: Assessing the Costs and Fundamental Rights Implications of EUROSUR and the "Smart Borders" Proposals (pdf) A study by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Written by Dr. Ben Hayes and Mathias Vermeulen: "Unable to tackle the root of the problem, the member states are upgrading the Union’s external borders. Such a highly parochial approach taken to a massive scale threatens some of the EU’s fundamental values - under the pretence that one’s own interests are at stake. Such an approach borders on the inhumane."

How the EU works and justice and home affairs decision-making (pdf)

Statewatch's 20th Anniversary Conference, June 2011: Statewatch conference speeches

TNI/Statewatch: Counter-terrorism, 'policy laundering' and the FATF - legalising surveillance, regulating civil society (pdf) by Ben Hayes

Statewatch publication: Guide to EU decision-making and justice and home affairs after the Lisbon Treaty (pdf) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex, with additional material by Tony Bunyan

Neoconopticon: the EU security-industrial complex (pdf) by Ben Hayes

The Shape of Things to Come (pdf) by Tony Bunyan

The Statewatch website

In 2017 the Statewatch website had: 1,341,194 users sessions and 20,264,295 hits
- 111,766 users sessions a month and 1,688,691 "hits" a month.

Join Statewatch regular e-mail list for new stories: Join Statewatch news e-mail list

The Statewatch database now holds more than 34,000 records (news, features, analyses and documentation).

If you use this site regularly, you are encouraged to make a donation to Statewatch to support future research.

Statewatch is a non-profitmaking voluntary group founded in 1991, see: About Statewatch

Contributions to News Online are welcomed, please get in touch.

The Statewatch website is hosted by the Phone Co-op:

Statewatch does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are those of the author. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement.

Statewatch is registered under the Data Protection Act. Information supplied will be not be passed to third parties. Registered UK charity number: 1154784. Registered UK company number: 08480724. Registered company name: The Libertarian Research & Education Trust. Registered office: 10 Queen Street Place, London EC4R 1BE.

© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.