This story is mostly nonsense.
There's a thing called ENLETS (or European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services), which is meant to be "the leading European platform that strengthens police cooperation and bridges the gap between the users and providers of law enforcement technology." From what I can tell it is a sort of advisory committee of law enforcement technology experts, working through Europol, who brainstorm how to use technology to help law enforcement stuff. Currently it gets about €600k in funding, mostly from the EU, some from the UK and the Netherlands. They're asking for that to be increased to €915k. Most of that seems to be in hiring some new full-time advisers; from their personnel costs, they want about 8 people working full time; a leader, a policy officer, and admin person and 5 senior advisers. So if they don't get their budget increase, there's a good chance none of this stuff will happen.
This article is based on a "secret" document (which I think is this one), which is a (draft?) work programme for the group for 2014-2020; so what they're supposed to be looking at.
This document stems from a recommendation by the Council of the European Union that ENLETS look into this kind of thing - the instructions etc. can be found here (or if that doesn't work, search for document 12103/13 on their search page). They asked ENLETS to monitor and coordinate the development of new technologies.
The actual "secret" document is listed on the Council's website (do a search for 17365/13) as "Law Enforcement Technology Services (ENLETS) 2014 - 2020 - Work programme", but the document itself isn't accessible. I don't know whether that's because it's such a minor report (and not really an official EU thing) that they haven't bothered uploading it, or if they are claiming it should be withheld; I'm tempted to make a formal request for it to see what they say.
The five short-term goals they have been asked to look at are in some places a bit scary:
- Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) - ANPR is well established in many MS. In 2013/14 ENLETS will support those MS who feel the need to enhance their capabilities by sharing best practices. The ANPR systems will be measured by its maturity, capabilities and their deployment.
- Open Source Intelligence - Open source intelligence is a prioritized topic due to the evolving internet and wireless communication systems. For law enforcement it is a source of information as well as a method of communication. Open source intelligence relates to frontline policing (events, crowd control) and criminal investigations (search for evidence, monitoring and surveillance). In this project the handling of open sources will be assessed and ranked.
- Signal Intelligence - Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) deploy many kinds of sensors, mostly connected to their IT systems. The sensors need to enhance the operational capability of the LEAs, but often the integration of these sensors and IT systems cause technological problems. Frequently sensor data cannot be integrated, stored or displayed due to the design, protocols and construction of IT systems. What kind of signal intelligence is the most operationally effective and open for integrating the sensors in the EU? What kind of concept will be needed as ever more data is forwarded for processing and more information needs to be analysed?
- Surveillance - Surveillance uses many types of technology. In this topic focus will be on sharing the best video systems (quality, performance in several scenarios). The purpose of this topic is to match the best standards in video used by the industry to the end user requirements. Privacy enhanced technology and transparency are key issues.
- Remote Stopping Vehicles - Cars on the run have proven to be dangerous for citizens. Criminal offenders (from robbery to a simple theft) will take risks to escape after a crime. In most cases the police are unable to chase the criminal due to the lack of efficient means to stop the vehicle safely. This project starts with the knowledge that insufficient technology tools are available to be used as part of a proportionate response. This project will work on a technological solution that can be a “build in standard” for all cars that enter the European market.
To me, 2 looks a bit worrying, but the rest seem to be about finding the most efficient way of doing what is already done, and getting different EU organisations using similar standards. The 5th, which is the one that has caused all this fuss, seems the most theoretical; noting that there is no way of doing this sensibly, so seeing if they can think of a way. Actually coming up with something, and convincing the politicians and parliamentarians to implement it will take quite a while.
So, "EU Secretly Plans to put a back door in every car by 2020" is pretty much nonsense; an advisory committee of a thing that sometimes works for the EU has been asked by a bit of the EU to look into technological solutions for law enforcement issues, and as one of their agenda items, had decided to see if there is a way to achieve this in a proportionate and practical way.
I have a feeling that it is "secret" in the sense that the Telegraph has only just found out about it, and has decided it is a great way of generating outrage at the EU. Like their nonsense story about EU plans to put GPS speed limiters in all cars, or the Daily Mails story about the EU planning a "soviet-style brainwashing" education campaign for children.