Ukraine war prompts European Union to overhaul counter-surveillance practices

European Commission buildingTHE POLITICAL FALLOUT OF the Russian invasion of Ukraine is prompting the European Union (EU) to radically upgrade the security of its facilities, according to a series of internal memoranda. On July 14, the EUObserver, an EU-focused news agency based in Brussels, said it had seen an internal EU document that describes the creation of a new anti-surveillance unit. The unit’s mission will reportedly center on providing security for closed-door EU meetings, using counter-measures standards employed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

According to EUObserver, EU member states have agreed to establish a so-called “CSC-TSCM Expert Group,” which will spearhead the formation of this new unit. In security parlance, TSCM stands for technical security counter-measures, a method of counter-surveillance. In their most basic form, TSCM operations are carried out by teams of technical experts trained in the use of anti-bugging equipment. These are able to detect radio emissions, which are generated by most surveillance devices —commonly referred to as ‘bugs’.

The internal memorandum stipulates that the “CSC-TSCM Expert Group” will be officially set up after July 25. It will consist of experts from several EU states. The resulting unit’s mission will be to “prevent, detect and potentially neutralise eavesdropping of information in any physical or electronic form,” the memorandum states. Counter-measures operations will include regular inspections of “facilities and vehicles and the protection of classified meetings” in buildings that house the EU Council, EU Parliament, and the European Commission.

The forthcoming formation of the “CSC-TSCM Expert Group” appears to be closely linked to news, published earlier this month, relating to the construction of a new facility. The new facility is described in the media as an EU “secure bunker.” According to the EUObserver, the €8 million ($8.07 million) enclosed space will operate as a designated EU sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF). The term denotes a secure area within a larger building, which is used to discuss sensitive topics and process classified information.

An internal memorandum, which EUObserver said it had seen, describes the project as a dedicated facility that will operate within the premises of the EU Council in Brussels. It will be designed to accommodate around 100 people, including technical and other facilities staff, such as interpreters. Audiovisual systems and devices in the SCIF will be disconnected form the World Wide Web, while NATO-certified insulation technology will prevent electromagnetic and radio waves generated by audiovisual and other hardware from being remotely intercepted.

Additionally, users of this secure facility will need to have at least SECRET UE/EU SECRET-level clearance. That is the second-highest level of clearance issued by the EU under its Protection of European Union classified information (EUCI) system. As is common in SCIF-type spaces, users will be required to leave all electronic equipment, such as smartphones, smartwatches, electronic key fobs, or laptop computers, in specially designated storage facilities located outside the SCIF. Furthermore, the facility will be swept by TSCM teams “before and after the meetings to detect, locate and neutralize any eavesdropping device”, the memo said.

According to EUObserver, the EU SCIF facility is scheduled to be operational by 2024.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 18 July 2022 | Permalink

One Response to Ukraine war prompts European Union to overhaul counter-surveillance practices

  1. Emanuel warenhaupt says:

    It is not only to be hoped that the screening system for candidates to participate in the new center will be more successful. In its previous decades most of the Western European security systems were filled with spies and collaborators from Russia who turned the European security system into a well-perforated strainer while at the head of course the famous German security system in its dubious safety

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