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    Op-Ed at Guardian (UK): Europe’s own surveillance state

    Stephen Booth, a research analyst at think tank Open Europe, writes about privacy and surveillance in Europe for the Guardian newspaper.

    As eloquently expressed in this forum before, the defence of our civil liberties is now a war on two fronts. While the UK government pushes ahead with new ways to stockpile our personal data and watch us at every street corner, the European Union is quietly getting on with establishing its very own Europe-wide version of the surveillance state.

    Despite the stalwart efforts of groups such as Statewatch, most people, including in the media, have not yet woken up to this. Perhaps it is the sheer scale of the erosion of citizens’ freedom in the UK that leaves the majority numb to anti-privacy developments that are already well underway in Brussels. […]

    But it is precisely because of the UK’s advances in this area that we must now pay better attention to what is happening in the EU. The bigger the UK’s DNA database, for instance, the more information available to authorities across Europe, since the UK has now agreed to grant EU member states access to it. The EU is also due to create its very own central database designed to store vast amounts of biometric data and, in the commission’s own words, the “largest 10 fingerprint system in the world”.

    With the imminent ratification of the EU’s Lisbon treaty, the EU will be given the green light to go ahead with more initiatives that pose a serious threat to our civil liberties.

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