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20 September, 2006

Make do with what you have

Terrorism and organised crime should not be used as excuses for passing laws which undermine people's privacy and data protection rights, according to the European Data Protection Supervisor.


As El Reg reports, Mr Hustinx went on to say that pre-existing laws are already adequate: "Current legislation does allow, for instance, law enforcement to check suspicious phone numbers found in a computer."

I agree. Maybe governments are under pressure to be seen to be 'doing something'. Maybe they're maliciously exploiting a political climate to impose a police state. Personally, I think that's over-dramatic and the truth is more mundane: governments wish to extend and integrate data on individuals for mere bureaucratic convenience, though I resist anything which could conceivably be used by the collective against individuals in future, unforeseen circumstances.
Whatever; I don't regard additional invasion of privacy to be acceptable, nor even necessary, irrespective of provocation.

A key test of any new measures must be this: is current legislation truly inadequate? If the proposed legislation was not enacted, would that prevent essential actions being fulfilled?
That's 'prevent', not 'hinder' – 'hinder' is good. Government powers shouldn't be too easy to apply, to discourage all but the most essential uses.

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