Eva Pressl on Thu, 8 Nov 2001 09:57:37 +0100 (CET)

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++ 9/11 Paves the Way for New Surveillance Legislation ++
++ CCTV Boom in UK ++
++ Links ++ Article by Chris Hables Gray
http://world.information.org ++ compiled by



The events of September 11 have led to a rush in the offices of
lawmakers worldwide. Under public and media pressure a  range of
anti-terrorism proposals were quickly prepared by the US and most
European countries. While some of them are still being discussed others
have already been signed into law. Yet the content is quite much the
same in all of them. Main measures include regulations on extradition,
funding (of terrorist groups) and money laundering as well as asylum and
ID cards. Also proposed are new surveillance and communication
interception powers for law enforcement agencies and intelligence.

US adopts “Patriot Act”

Not surprisingly the US was among the first nations to adopt an
anti-terrorism package. On October 26 President Bush signed into law the
“Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism
(Patriot) Act”. This new legislation grants law enforcement broad new
investigative and surveillance powers. It expands the executive’s
ability to tap telephones and eavesdrop on Internet communication.
Federal authorities will be given much wider latitude in collecting and
evaluating information about people and their movements. Moreover, with
new abilities to share data between different agencies law enforcement
will be able to build more robust, centralized stores of intercepted
data. “As of today, we’re changing the laws governing information
sharing.” said President Bush. Yet the legislation fails to provide
guidelines for how long such data can be kept, or what happens to it
after a particular investigation is concluded.

To facilitate surveillance and interception activities the Internet
eavesdropping technology previously known as Carnivore will be upgraded.
Additionally, ISPs must make their services more wiretap friendly or
allow the installation of Carnivore technology. Yet whereas some
provisions in the bill will expire in 2006, powers governing Internet
surveillance are not included in the “sunset clause”. “This bill goes
light years beyond what is necessary to combat terrorism,” argues Laura
Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington National Office. “Included in
the bill are provisions that would allow for the mistreatment of
immigrants, the suppression of dissent and the investigation and
surveillance of wholly innocent Americans.”

Europe prepares anti-terror laws

But also European legislators are not short of preparing surveillance
and interception packages that shall aim at fighting terrorism. While
the UK is still discussing measures, which shall allow data surveillance
across the Internet and will probably be adopted by late November,
France has already passed its “Loi sur la Sécurité Quotidienne” on 31
October. Although the law has been prepared since last spring, after
9/11 thirteen new sections concerning terrorist threats were added.
Those permit the access and surveillance of telephone and Internet
communication and include provisions such as the retention of IP and GSM
logs for one year, the obligation to furnish the key of encrypted files
(if requested by court) and the use of judiciary police databases for
administrative searches. “The new anti-terror laws are a threat to
individual and collective liberties”, stated various NGOs including
Reporters Without Borders, the Ligue des Droits de l’homme and the
Campagne pour la Libéralisation de la Cryptographie.

At the same time Germany is heading for the adoption of its second piece
of anti-terrorism legislation. After the approval of the first
anti-terrorism bill on 19 September, the second package that will give
security organs and criminal prosecutors more powers to collect new and
use existing data, is due to be discussed in Cabinet on 9 November. The
bill will then enable intelligence services to request data from public
and private institutions such as banks, airlines and postal services.
Also ISPs and telecommunications operators will be obliged to make
available traffic and utilization data, whereby the sharing of
information between various authorities will be facilitated.

Similar as the US, British and French bills the German anti-terrorism
package is criticized for not providing an independent body that
controls the surveillants. “There must be a judiciary and parliamentary
control on all levels”, said Hans-Christian Ströbele, German MP and
security expert. Further concern arises from the fact that the laws give
law enforcement and intelligence broad powers to collect data and
conduct surveillance, but lack safeguards concerning the protection of
privacy and personal data. Most of the new legislation has been hastily
prepared and it seems that the fear about further atrocities has
prevailed over the need to protect personal data and privacy. "In the
whole world governments are moving to clamp down on human rights
protection and data privacy protection," says Simon Davies, Director of
Privacy International and visiting fellow in Information Systems at the
London School of Economics.



Recently the UK Government has approved nearly 250 new CCTV schemes
across England and Wales. The Euro 125 million investment is the largest
single Government allocation of CCTV money to date. It will enable
thousands of cameras to be installed and target residential areas,
shopping centers, transportation networks, car parks, hospital sites and
other public spaces. The argument for the set up of additional CCTV
systems is combating crime. Home Office Minister John Denham, who has
the overall responsibility for crime reduction, stated in a news
release: “CCTV has repeatedly proved its effectiveness in the fight
against crime and the fear of crime.” Yet the Home Offices’ last
official studies on the effects of CCTV date from 1997. Also, recent
crime rates do not support the thesis that CCTV helps to reduce crime,
but rather suggests its displacement.

Still, the spending on new CCTV technology is continually growing in the
UK. In the bigger cities already today one has to reckon with being
videotaped up to 300 times a day. This leads to strong objections from
privacy advocates. But these represent only a minority and official
concerns are hardly voiced. The Government’s silence in the face of
privacy questions is even more worrying as the police’s CCTV activities
are scarcely subject to any regulation. Moreover, there exists no
independent body that controls the surveillants. Rather the police are
in charge of controlling themselves against potential abuse. Promoted by
politicians and police as primary solution for urban dysfunction the use
of CCTV without proper safeguards questions the individuals’ right to
privacy and data protection.


++ LINKS ++

Bush Comments on Signing New Antiterrorism Law (US Department of State)
>>> http://usinfo.state.gov/topical/pol/terror/01102600.htm

Home Office admits data retention plans (ZDNet UK)
>>> http://news.zdnet.co.uk/story/0,,t295-s2098159,00.html

Les députés ont adopté le projet loi sur la sécurité (Le Monde)

Second anti-terror package (German Federal Government)
>>> http://eng.bundesregierung.de/top/dokumente/Artikel/ix_60616.htm

GBP97m CCTV Investment to Aid Crackdown on Crime (UK Home Office)

10 Reasons Why Public CCTV Schemes Are Bad (Privacy International)
>>> http://merlin.legend.org.uk/~brs/cctv/tenreasons.html



Chris Hables Gray, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of the Cultural
Studies of Science and Technology and of Computer Science at the
University of Great Falls. This excerpt from his latest book,
Information, Power and Peace (Routledge 2002) deals with how new
information technologies impact the chances for global peace.



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