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EU accused of making “frightening” grab for personal data

Antony Savvas

Civil liberties watchdog Statewatch has slammed the EU's post-9/11 security strategy as a "frightening" grab for individual information.

In a 60-page report, published on the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the US, Statewatch said the EU saw data privacy and the judicial scrutiny of police surveillance tactics as obstacles to efficient law enforcement, rather than rights to be safeguarded.

The report, The Shape Of Things To Come, described as "shadowy" the so-called EU Future Group, which is preparing a new five-year security strategy. The group wants closer EU links with the US when it comes to using "extremely controversial" techniques for surveillance.

The Statewatch report quotes an EU Council of Ministers document on justice and security, which declares, "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."

Statewatch said, "The implications of this statement are breath-taking. Across the EU, governments have adopted, or are adopting, national laws for the mandatory retention of everyone's communications data, even though few citizens are aware this is happening.

"This allows law enforcement and security agencies to get access to all traffic data. In the UK, access is already automated."

Statewatch claims that ever since 9/11, the US government has "got its way" on security policy, to the detriment of the privacy and protection of EU citizens' data.

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