Saturday, December 17, 2005

It has not been a good week in Europe

Big Brother - used under fair use/fair dealing provisions for purposes of commentary or satire First the EU passes a snoopers' charter, in the form of a directive to create the largest monitoring database in the world. All your phone calls, every email, each connection to the Internet, and more, are to be timed and noted. Details of who you talk to, when, and for how long, will be stored for who knows what organisations to access, on the flimsiest of excuses, and without even the basic safeguard of a warrant. It's not even going to be limited to terrorist crimes, or mafia investigations. There will be no scrutiny of how it's used. And the data may be stored almost indefinitely. The authorities will even be able to track your movements using your mobile phone - even if they just think you've been speeding, or possibly if you're a day late with your tax returns, or maybe if you've criticised their policies a bit too much.

Big Brother - used under fair use/fair dealing provisions for purposes of commentary or satire To anyone who remembers how David Blunkett tried to give the Food Standards Agency and your local Council (of all people) the power to seize your phone records the other year, it won't be a surprise that New Labour was in the forefront of the campaign for this directive. But it's the EU, and it sounds technical, so maybe they hope nobody will notice. But these people at the FFII worked out exactly why it's a bad idea. The BBC noticed. Even the European Data Protection Supervisor stated that the directive is not necessary and does not respect human rights.

Then there was a story that even the most inattentive journalist couldn't ignore: Tony Blair hands back a huge chunk of the British EU rebate in exchange for, er, nothing! The French have agreed to take a quick look (in a few years' time) at the billions they waste on the Common Agricultural Policy, before they refuse again to do anything about it. And we pay them an extra 10 billion Euros - every year. Stand by for the spin!

Not a good week in Europe. The worst of it is that when it starts to bite, our politicians will hold up their hands and blame the EU!

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