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Watch your liberties, Statewatch warns

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Second is the increased blurring of the line between safety and security. Tony Bunyan again: "People wish to feel safe. Security is all about the interests of the State."

However, since 9/11 some degree of liberal restraint - and the sense that individuals should have a right to privacy - has been overturned before the altar of absolute security.

A sense of how things have changed may be gleaned from the Future Group report, which talks about harnessing the power of what it calls the "digital tsunami" for the benefit of law enforcement and security agencies. Or, as the EU Council presidency puts it:

"Every object the individual uses, every transaction they make and almost everywhere they go will create a detailed digital record. This will generate a wealth of information for public security organisations, and create huge opportunities for more effective and productive public security efforts."

The third factor that, according to Tony Bunyan, is working massively to erode traditional safeguards is the way in which the EU appears to be kowtowing to the demands of the US, without putting in place any corresponding safeguards for its own citizenry.

If you think it isn't happening, then take a look at chapter two of the Statewatch report, which sets out in fairly gory detail a list of schemes and initiatives already in place or underway in Europe.

Last word to Jean Lambert MEP, a member of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, who commented:

"The idea that information makes you safe is a total fallacy. Data capture needs to be proportional and effective and, put simply, more information becomes increasingly difficult to manage and evaluate. The Government and their outsourced agencies have already proven that they can't be trusted to keep data safe, so we need to exercise caution.

"Member States should have to prove why data capture is necessary and be very clear about who will have access to that data before they are permitted to use and store it. There should be a presumption against gathering citizens' personal data for the sake of it. Once data is held there is the potential for it to be misused by persons not acting in our best interests.

"I share the concerns of Statewatch and voted against the EU Directive on Data Retention and I will continue to fight other measures which could lead to infringements of our right to privacy. I agree that there is a need for meaningful and wide-ranging debate on this subject to avoid the further violation of our civil liberties." ®

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