Thursday, October 04, 2007


The latest EDRI-gram is out. Highlights:

"Human Rights in the Information Society - rediscover the proportionality
26 September, 2007 » Privacy | Global | Security

On 13-14 September 2007 the French Commission for UNESCO, UNESCO and the Council of Europe organised the conference "Ethics and Human Rights in the Information Society" in Strasbourg, to which EDRi was invited to contribute.

This conference was the third in a cycle of regional conferences on the ethical dimensions of the information society, which aims to contribute to the WSIS process and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The first two regional conferences took place in Latin-America and Africa. While the Latin-American conference contributed to the exchange of views in the region, the African conference was suffering from a lack of participation of local stakeholders. There, mainly African expatriots from the USA and Europe and representatives of South Africa were present.

At the conference in Strasbourg some estimated fifty participants were present. With equality of access, freedom of expression, identity and social networks and security and governance, the presentations and discussions covered the topics of the four round table sessions on a rather global level, while the draft code of ethics presented by the organisers was hardly discussed.

Different views on codes of ethics in general were expressed in the presentations and discussions. Questions like if soft law (like codes of ethics) is the right mean to address the global challenges of the Information Society, if the different ethical standards around the world can reasonably be merged into a single code of ethics, if it had been better to choose a multi stakeholder bottom up or a closed doors top down approach were addressed in various contributions but not finally agreed on.

There was mutual consent that human rights are the core ethical basis on which any regulation of the Information Society has to be built. Unfortunately it remains questionable if all participants share the same perception of what defining human rights as the core ethical basis means in practice. While for example some consider the CoE Cybercrime Convention to be a basis for a global regulation of the Information Society (this convention lacks - amongst others - privacy and civil rights protections and covers any crime where the evidence could be in computerised form), others like EDRi (and myself) argue that this convention should be rejected and is now more dangerous than ever.

In my presentation at the security and governance round table I consequently addressed the question if all the anti terror measures adopted in the last years in Europe were proportionate to the threat stemming from terrorism in this region. To this end I presented the findings on terrorism submitted by Europol.

According to Europol "EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report TE-SAT 2007" terrorism in the EU is basically a local problem in France (separatists in Corsica) and Spain (separatists in the Basque region). The vast majority of terrorist attacks in the EU in 2006 was carried out in these regions (419 of 498 attacks). The rest were left or right wing motivated attacks. There were no successful Islamist terrorist attacks in 2006 and the vast majority of all attacks was not intending to kill. The number of arrested individuals differs. Of the 706 suspects 257 were suspected of islamism, 226 of separatism, 52 of left wing and 15 of right wing terror. Of the approx. 260 suspects of islamist terror less than 10 % (meaning less than 26) were suspected of the preparation, planning or execution of terrorist attacks.

Given this figures it is certainly questionable if measures like:
- mandatory data retention, that infringes the human rights of all 450 million Europeans,
- the transfer of passenger name records and SWIFT financial data to the US,
- the introduction of biometric identifiers in European passports,
- the mutual access of member states to police databases (Prüm Treaty)
- the central EU fingerprint database, that is planned for 2008,
are proportionate to the threat stemming from terrorism in Europe.

Given the series of measures for fighting terrorism and crime limiting the freedom of individuals and infringing human rights, it is necessary to reconsider their impact on human rights, which are the foundation of our society, and to rediscover the protection of human rights as a core obligation of all European states.

To this end, a multi stakeholder approach should be taken, involving all relevant groups, governments, the private sector and civil society alike. The first steps have already been taken during the World Summit on the Information Society and the IGF. The concrete outcome will depend on how seriously this process is treated and if the results elaborated will find their way into binding policy.

Ethics and human rights in information society (13-14.09.2007)

UNESCO Draft Code of Ethics

EDRi's Contribution - The Interrelation of Human Rights and Security

German version

Cybercrime Convention

Eight Reasons the International Cybercrime Treaty Should be Rejected

EDRI-gram: ENDitorial: The 2001 CoE Cybercrime Convention more dangerous than ever (20.06.2007)

Europol, EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report TE-SAT 2007 (03.2007)

(Contribution by Andreas Krisch - EDRi)"

"Largest anti-surveillance street protest in Germany for 20 years
26 September, 2007 » Privacy | Telecommunication data retention

On Saturday, 22 September 2007, more than 15,000 took to the streets of Berlin under the slogan "Liberty instead of Fear - stop the Surveillance Mania!". Several Civil Liberty organisations, affiliated in the "Working Group Data Retention" (Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung), organised the march.

55 groups called for participation, among them the "Young Liberals" (Junge Liberale, Youth organisation of the FDP), Buendnis 90 / Die Gruenen, ver.di, journalist associations, ATTAC, the Protestant telephone Counselling (evangelische Telefonseelsorge), medical associations, FoeBuD e.V., and the Chaos Computer Club. German EDRi members CCC, FIfF, FoeBuD and NNM played an active role in organizing the protest. Police initially estimated 8,000 participants, later correcting their count to confirm the working group's numbers.

"This is the largest protest for civil liberties and privacy protection since the census in 1987", Thilo Weichert, data protection commissioner of Schleswig-Holstein said to news portal

Rena Tangens of FoeBuD e.V.: "The overwhelming success of this protest shows that by now a large proportion of the population are worried about our constitutional state. Citizens do not want our democracy to be turned into a surveillance state. The Bundestag must reject the proposed date retention bill."

The large turnout of 15,000 shows that people consider the continuing tightening of security and surveillance laws to be decidedly too far-reaching. Citizens are concerned, not because of the supposed danger of international terrorism, but because of the impertinence and lack of restraint security politicians show in declaring civil rights and liberties defunct. The large cross-section of society participating in the demonstration makes it evident that these are not the views only a few civil rights experts, but that the issue now unites broad parts of the population. Politics cannot ignore this signal.

The organisers decisively criticised actions by the police, as well as some radical left-wing demonstrators: "A bloc of radical left-wing demonstrators did not abide by police obligations. The police in turn used disproportionate means in reaction to violations such as disguising and use of oversize banners, and did not appear to pursue de-escalation in all situations. The massive use of video cameras by the police, especially at this particular protest march, was a provocation. Overall, however, these were marginal incidents which did not impair the progress of the demonstration."

Rena Tangens remarked, "On balance it was a very positive, creative and colourful demonstration, in which hackers demonstrated peacefully beside doctors, and the 'Young Liberals' beside the 'Left Party' (Linkspartei)." The Giant Data-Octopus ("Datenkrake") of FoeBuD e.V., the "glass patient" on the car of the "Freie Aerzteschaft" (an occupational union of physicians), as well as several trojan horses were among the March's highlights.

Patrick Breyer of the Working Group Data Retention announces further activities: "We will resist data retention by all legal means." According to the working group about 20,000 citizens have already declared their support for the prepared constitutional recourse (Verfassungsbeschwerde) against data retention.

Among other things the demonstration takes a stand against the retention of data about telecommunication behaviour of the entire population, that is on this Autumn's political agenda in Germany, as well as against the covert online-searching of computers. Key demands include a halt to new surveillance laws and a review of existing surveillance laws.

Home page of the demonstration - Working Group Data Retention

Radio1984 feature live from the demonstration (22.09.2007)

German version

Biggest demonstration for more data protection and privacy since 20 years! (in German only, 22.09.2007)

Thousands of citizens demonstrate for "Freedom instead of Fear" (in German only, 22.09.2007)

Berlin Data Tussles (in German only, 24.09.2007)ämpfe/256868.html

Biggest data protection demonstration within 20 years (in German only, 23.09.2007)

Other articles about the demonstration (in German only)

(Contribution by Jan E. Hennig and Bernd Sieker, EDRI-member FoeBuD - Germany)"

"Recommended Reading
26 September, 2007 » Privacy | Biometrics

Data Protection Framework Decision: EDPS concerned about dilution of Data Protection standards

Nuffield Council on Bioethics : The forensic use of bioinformation: ethical issues. This Report considers whether current police powers in the UK to take and retain bioinformation are justified by the need to fight crime. Executive Summary

Full Report"

See original for links.

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