By Heini Järvinen

On 23 January 2015, EDRi organised its first series of privacy and IT security training sessions in the European Parliament (EP). Three Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and their assistants from throughout the political spectrum – European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR), European United Left, Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) and the Greens, European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) – participated in the individual, customised training sessions.

The goal of the training sessions is to give MEPs and their assistants an overview on why protecting their privacy is important, both from personal and political reasons. We explained the potential risks to their privacy in different environments, and how to assess probable threats. The objective was to also offer them a selection of practical tools to improve the privacy of their private and professional communications.

The training sessions were tailored according to each participant’s level of previous knowledge as well as their interests, and the topics included encryption, anonymous browsing, risks when using smart phones and instant messaging. Besides sharing theoretical knowledge and suggesting different solutions for the participants’ needs, some tools were explained to them also in practice. For example memory sticks with the Tails operating system were given out for “testing”, and email encryption tools installed and configured to personal computers. A “menu” of privacy options was offered to participants, including a big choice of starters, main courses and desserts, similar to the Privacy Cafés run by EDRi-member Bits of Freedom.

From the point of view of privacy and secure communications, there is a lot to improve in the EP; default solutions offered for browsing the Internet, sharing documents and sending internal emails are often not privacy friendly, and installing privacy enhancing software or plugins to the computers is made difficult or impossible – which the leads to MEPs using private devices and insecure solutions instead. To increase awareness of privacy issues within the EP, and to introduce better practices, training sessions have been planned with more MEPs, and EDRi will be following up, offering further support and advice to the participants of the trainings that already took place.

If you are working in the EU Parliament and interested in the training sessions, please contact us via: VIP-training(at)edri.org

Privacy training Menu:
https://edri.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Privacy_training_menu.png

Bits of Freedom’s Privacy Café
https://privacycafe.nl/

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