Disillusioned Discordian


Council of Europe I wuv you for evar and evar
December 5, 2008, 3:37 pm
Filed under: Current Affairs, ID Cards / Surveillance, Political

Word cannot quite describe quite how much I love the Council of Europe right now. Not only have we recently had a landmark ruling that leaves the Government’s DNA database in tatters but we have now had a report on anti-terror law’s and privacy. Thomas Hammarber, Commissioner of Human Right’s report entitled Protecting the right to privacy in the fight against terrorism. The Government can be expected to wrangle over deleting and DNA profiles, and there is talk on the grapevine that Jackboot Jacqui is seeking to appoint an *independent* chair at an arms length to the government to oversee the NDNAD. There is no way they can keep the physical samples but I suspect they will come up with a code of practice that has a very liberal definition of when someone is proved to be innocent that will allow innocent people’s data to be stored for a fair few years. Anyhow it’s a pretty strong judgement so they will have a hard time trying to wiggle out of it. Back to the other good news, Thomas Hammarber’s report is damming of the Government’s use of terrorism as a justification to create a quasi-stasi Database state. Here are a few choice cuts:

 

We are rapidly becoming a “Surveillance Society”. This is partly the result of general technical and societal developments, but these trends are strongly reinforced by measures taken in the fight against terrorism.

In the context of the fight against terrorism, this means individuals are at risk of being targeted for being suspected “extremists” or for being suspected of being “opposed to our constitutional legal order”, even if they have not (yet) committed any criminal (let alone terrorist) offence.

“Targets” of this kind are moreover increasingly selected through computer “profiles”. Even if some may be caught, there will always be relatively large numbers of “false negatives” – real terrorists who are not identified as such, and unacceptably high numbers of “false positives”: large numbers of innocent people who are subjected to surveillance, harassment, discrimination, arrest – or worse. Freedom is being given up without gaining security.

In addition, increasing use is made of non-criminal, yet effectively punitive, “administrative” measures against identified suspected “extremists” or new-type “enemies of the State”. This robs them of fundamental safeguards, both against the specific measures taken against them and, as groups, against such discrimination. It leads to alienation of the groups in question, and thus actually undermines security.

In the process, all of us are increasingly placed under general, mass surveillance, with data being captured on all our activities, on-line or in the “real” world. Such general surveillance raises serious democratic problems which are not answered by the repeated assertion that “those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear.”

 

 

 

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