“The consequences of mass surveillance tools such as those developed by the US and allied services falling into the hands of authoritarian regimes would be catastrophic.”
The assembly’s legal committee called for:
- The collection of personal data without consent only following “a court order granted on the basis of reasonable suspicion”;
- “Credible, effective protection” for whistle-blowers exposing unlawful surveillance;
- Better judicial and parliamentary control of intelligence services;
- An “intelligence codex” defining mutual obligations that secret services could opt into;
- An inquiry into member states’ use of mass surveillance using powers under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Another concern named in the report is the use of mass surveillance to justify the existence of “secret laws, secret courts and secret interpretations of such laws.”
In April 2014, Snowden spoke to the assembly through a video link from Moscow, Russia, where he has been granted asylum since 2012. During that conference, he revealed to assembly members that the NSA had targeted non-governmental organizations and other civil groups for its surveillance sweeps, both inside and outside of the U.S..
“Before the ever-growing ‘surveillance-industrial complex’ spins completely out of control, we must act, in order to subject surveillance to the rule of law,” the report states. Otherwise, “nobody and nothing is safe from snooping by our own countries’ and even foreign intelligence services.”