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Brussels, 5 December 2005. The EU is passing a "Big Brother" law to track every electronic communication, warns the FFII, an international information rights group based in Munich.
"Imagine a world in which the state follows everything you do. A world where computers watch every step you make. A world in which privacy is dead and the machines can track down every dissident in minutes. A world ruled by unelected agencies, working hand-in-hand with powerful commercial interests. A world in which citizens have no rights except to consume. Science fiction? The Age of the Machines? No, this is Europe, coming to you in 2006."
So warns Pieter Hintjens, president of the FFII. He says, "the EU is about to pass a directive to track every communication you make. This law makes the old Soviet spy states look like amateurs."
He continues "This law goes against our European traditions of civil liberty. It appears to break Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It will destroy small ISPs and raise prices. To enforce it, the EU will have to shut or monitor every cybercafe, web mail access, and wifi hotspot. Such a regime would be more authoritarian even than China. Even the US, after 9/11, does not have such oppressive laws. The EU does not need this law: it is a bad law, pushed through without respect for the democratic process."
Erik Josefsson of the FFII says: "We are entering into an era of 'I don't have time' legislation. With the expanded competence of the Commission (see consequences of the ECJ Judgement September 13, case c-176/03 Commission v. Council), the underarmed and weakened Parliament stands no chance to do its job properly. The 'sausage machine' is far too easy to abuse."
The Big Brother "data retention directive" makes Internet and telephony providers record "communications traffic data" for up to several years. These huge amounts of detailed personal data can be easily leaked, stolen, and abused. The forces - mainly the UK government - pushing the Big Brother law claim it will prevent terrorism. The FFII does not accept this simplistic argument. The real targets, it appears, are ordinary citizens, going about their daily business.
The FFII president points out, "almost everyone carries a mobile phone. With this law, your mobile phone and web browser becomes Big Brother's way of watching you. You will never be alone again. If you do not like this idea, contact your MEP today, urgently, and explain why it worries you. On 13 December 2005, personal privacy becomes history."
FFII Brussels Representative
ehj @ ffii.org
About the FFII
The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) is a non-profit association registered in several European countries, which is dedicated to the spread of data processing literacy. FFII supports the development of public information goods based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 850 members, 3,000 companies and 90,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.