Why is it that our politicians, both in the UK and in the rest of Europe, seem to be so weak, that they have allowed themselves to be manipulated by the terrorist threat, and vested securocrat interests, to weaken our fundamental freedoms and liberties, without any noticeable gain in actual security. ?
Privacy International have a new report on the "effects of new counter-terrorism laws on media and free expression rights in European countries".
Executive summary, page 3
I. Introduction, page 5
II. Effects of international bodies on Council of Europe member states, page 7
United Nations, page 7
The Council of Europe, page 8
The European Union, page 10
III. Limits on access and gathering information, page 13
Access to Information Laws, page 13
State Secrets Legislation, page 15
Limits on Photography, page 17
IV. Limits on freedom of expression, page 19
V. Protection of journalists' sources and materials, page 25
VI. Wiretapping and surveillance of journalists, page 29
VII. Conclusion, page 35
VIII. Appendix, page 37
Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council
of Europe on protecting freedom of expression and
information in times of crisis, page 37
Declaration on freedom of expression and information
in the media in the context of the fight against
terrorism, page 40
Summary of findings:
International bodies including the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Union (EU) have adopted many international agreements that either ignore or only pay scant attention to fundamental human rights and the importance of a free media. Their agendas are often driven by those countries that are most aggressive in adopting expansive counter-terrorism laws including the UK, US and Russia. The role of European institutions such as the EU and the CoE have resulted in greater adoption and harmonization of these laws than most other regions.
New laws on prohibiting speech that is considered "extremist" or supporting of terrorism have been a particular problem. These laws are used in many jurisdictions to suppress political and controversial speech. Newspapers have been closed and journalists arrested. Web sites are often taken down or blocked.
State secret and national security laws are regularly being used against journalists and their sources even as access to information laws are widely accepted and adopted across the CoE. There are also growing restrictions imposed on photographers not based in law.
Protection of journalists' sources are often undermined by governments seeking to identify officials who provide information even though they are widely recognized both in national laws and in decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. Newsrooms are often searched.
New anti-terrorism laws are giving authorities wide powers to conduct surveillance. Other new laws impose technical and administrative requirements on the ability to intercept communications and keeping information. Of particular concern are data retention laws which require the routine surveillance of all mobile and Internet users that can be used to easily identify sources and journalists' investigations.