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Date: 2001-09-25

Terror: Offener Brief der NGOs in CNN

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Ein offener Brief, in zwei Nächten der letzten Woche relativ hastig
zwischen sieben europäischen NGOs akkordiert, zieht weite
Kreise. Inzwischen ist er bereits bei CNN-Site angelangt


Etwas weniger international, nämlich AT-weit: Am Nachmittag
gastiert die quintessenzielle Doris bei Radio FM 4 [Connected ab
14.00]. Um 21.00 beschäftigt sich der "Report" mit dem
Überwachungsthema [21.00 ORF 2]
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Euro civil liberty campaigners urge restraint

By Joris Evers

(IDG) -- Police and intelligence services should not get new or
extended communication interception powers or increased access
to information, say seven European privacy and civil liberties
organizations in an open letter to the European Council.

In the letter, sent Friday, the organizations from Austria, Denmark,
Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K. urge the European Council
to defend citizens' freedom and rights in the wake of the terrorist
attacks on the U.S.

"There is a climate now where it is possible to get measures into
place fast. Measures that would otherwise not be allowed," said
Maurice Wessling of Bits of Freedom in Amsterdam.

"Privacy and civil liberties must be part of the debate. They are very
important subjects that can't be shoved aside. Privacy and civil
liberties are always on the agenda in the U.S. In Europe, that's
much less the case," he said.

The European Council, convening Friday in Brussels, is made up of
the heads of state or government of the 15 member states of the
European Union and the president of the European Commission.
The groups in their letter acknowledge that European leaders wish
to enhance the security of their countries, but question the
effectiveness and proportionality of extended powers for law
enforcement and warn against the "grave loss of privacy" that would
lead to.

"The existence of the Echelon system did not provide intelligence
services with information about the attacks in the U.S. We are
concerned that Echelon and similar systems threaten the rights of
all European citizens without achieving their stated goals," the
letter states.

Echelon is the code name for a global electronic-surveillance
network believed to be run in part by the U.S. National Security
Agency (NSA). U.S. officials have never officially confirmed the
existence of Echelon, but an investigative committee of the
European Parliament recently concluded that the spy network is

In addition, the civil liberty and privacy groups ask the European
leaders to promote encryption as a way to guarantee privacy of
electronic communications and not to implement legislation that
would force Internet and telecommunication service providers to
retain traffic data for use by law enforcement.

"Retention of traffic data will in effect transform our communications
infrastructure into a surveillance system that records intimate
details of the personal life of all citizens," the groups state in the

The European Justice and Home Affairs ministers met on Thursday
to discuss which measures to take to maintain "the highest level of
security" and to combat terrorism. Issues such as wiretapping
were discussed, according to the meeting conclusions. However,
No concrete plans to extend the powers of law enforcement are in
place, according to Wessling.

The organizations that signed the open letter are Bits of Freedom
in the Netherlands; Chaos Computer Club and Fitug in Germany;
Digital Rights, Denmark; Foundation for Information Policy
Research and Privacy International, both in the U.K., and
Quintessenz in Austria.

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edited by Harkank
published on: 2001-09-25
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