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Riga: Europe will defend liberty by abolishing it

Posted by on January 30, 2015.

European national governments’ focus on terrorism, brilliantly led and orchestrated by the UK, continues to tighten its stranglehold on personal privacy. Terrorism took centre stage at the informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs meeting in Riga this week – not the economy, not poverty, not lack of employment and certainly not Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation.

Terrorism tragically causes the loss of life in Europe – but only a fraction of the number of innocent civilians and children killed by western drones; and nothing like the mayhem caused by the motor car on Europe’s roads. Terrorism is the excuse for increasing government control over legal public dissent.

That’s not to say that nothing should be done, and that’s not to say that nothing will be done.

The emerging plans to strengthen cooperation between police and security services are welcome. Improving the exchange of information about individuals under suspicion is crucial for improving our response to terrorist threats. The same is true for the plans to take joint action against the spread of illegal firearms and the financing of terrorism. It is also encouraging that home affairs ministers are looking to address the roots of radicalisation in Europe: this will require concerted action and resources, particularly in areas or institutions (like prisons), which are known to be used for radicalisation.
Jan Philipp Albrecht, Green home affairs spokesperson

But increasing mass surveillance and data retention are still firmly on the agenda, with a Europe-wide PNR system set to be the next milestone (effectively in defiance of the European Parliament and Europe’s own constitution as defined by the European Court of Justice).

For the moment at least, David Cameron’s bonkers and hugely dangerous idea of backdooring the internet and effectively abolishing encryption is not being discussed – but that doesn’t mean it has gone away.

One serious tragedy is that the GDPR is likely to be sacrificed on the alter of mass surveillance. Germany now wants to remove day to day processing from the scope of the regulation. Britain, of course, wants to remove everything from it. At Riga, the GDPR went backwards, not forwards. Albrecht comments, “Because member states are already drastically behind schedule for a conclusion of the reform in 2015, it is now even less clear if and when an agreement between Parliament and Council can be reached at all.”

If the GDPR goes ahead, it is looking more and more likely that it will be weaker, not stronger, than the existing Data Protection Directive.

Meanwhile, Europe will press ahead on Commissioner Avramopoulos statement:

We have shown our firm determination to defend our values against hatred, violence and intolerance, and to uphold our ideals of freedom of speech and thought, but also, of tolerance and dialogue.

This can be translated as, “We have shown our firm determination to promote hatred, violence and intolerance between Christians and Moslems, and to abolish the outdated concept of freedom of speech and thought while promoting government intolerance and monologue.”

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Submitted in: Expert Views, Kevin Townsend's opinions | Tags: , ,