Wednesday, May 17, 2006

some europeans say surveillance acceptable

from guardian: Europeans are no strangers to eavesdropping: East Germans endured the all-pervasive Stasi secret police, a French president had a penchant for wiretaps and Britain had "Camillagate" - with Prince Charles taped making a steamy call to his lover.

Perhaps little wonder, then, that many Europeans barely shrug at news that the Bush administration has collected telephone records on millions of Americans.

Although experts and officials say Europe does not centrally collect telephone data on a massive scale, government surveillance has been increasing since the Sept. 11 attacks. Some say European nations could further boost surveillance if terrorism becomes an even bigger threat...

That is not a problem for Carolina Lio, a university student from Bologna. ``As long as there isn't a CCTV camera in my house, I am not worried,'' she said. ``I know the surveillance is not directed against me, but rather to protect me.''

But others warn the delicate balance between security and freedom is being lost.

``Politicians have tapped into this mood of fear,'' said British expert Ian Leigh.

``A lot of the safeguards that were erected, first of all in the U.S. in the 1970s, and then in other countries in the '80s and '90s following well-documented abuses have been taken down to some degree to fight the war on terror,'' he said. ``It's likely that this will store up problems for the future.''

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