Human rights organisations call EU Ombudsman to act regarding surveillance technology transfers to third countries

A coalition of human rights organisations, including Access Now, Privacy International and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) are calling on the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, to open an inquiry into several EU institutions’ failure to promote and respect human rights when transferring surveillance tools to third non-EU countries. The complaint follows Privacy International’s investigation last year which revealed how the European Commission and EU institutions — including the European Border and Coastguard Agency (Frontex) and the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) — provided funding and trainings to non-EU intelligence and security authorities in surveillance techniques, wiretapping tech and biometric ID systems as a part of migration control and surveillance programs. Notably, North African countries are receiving a large share of these programmes and training. “State of the art technology” was allocated to Tunisia and Morocco to establish a screening system for agencies to collect data at border crossing points. In Morocco, security officials were taught how to extract data from mobile phones using Xry and Ufed — extraction software produced by MSAB and Israeli-based Cellebrite.