Press release, 21 September 2001
European NGOS concerned with privacy and civil liberties urge European leaders to defend citizens' freedoms

Seven European NGOS concerned with privacy and civil liberties have urged European leaders to defend citizens' freedoms in the wake of the attack on the USA. In an open letter to the extraordinary informal meeting of the European Council scheduled for Friday evening in Brussels the organisations ask European leaders to refrain from new and extended communications interception and lawful access powers for police forces and intelligences services.

The organisations from Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom question the effectiveness and proportionality of such capabilities and warn against the grave loss of privacy that those measures would lead to.

The open letter also urges to defend and promote the right of private and secure communications through the use of encryption. "To restrict the use of cryptography will negatively affect the security of our communications infrastructure, further damage trust in our economy, and will restrict the rights of individuals, without affecting the
capabilities of terrorists. We urge Europe's leaders to carefully take the recommendations of the European parliament regarding the Echelon report into account and stimulate the use of open-source encryption technology."

Foundation for Information Policy Research
www.fipr.org cb@fipr.org +44(0)20 7354 2333

The full text of the letter
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21 September 2001

Open letter to the European Council

European privacy and civil liberties organisations urge European leaders
to defend citizens' freedoms

The terrorist attacks on the U.S. did not only target human lives and property but also the essential values of freedom in open societies. Political leaders in Europe will now wish to enhance the security of their countries and protect the public from further wrongdoing. We urge them to take this opportunity to defend the freedom and the rights of Europe's citizens.

European privacy and civil liberties organisations urge Europe's leaders to refrain from new and extended communications interception and lawful access powers for police forces and intelligences services. We question the effectiveness and proportionality of such capabilities and warn against the grave loss of privacy that those measures would lead to.

We support the recommendations of the European Parliament regarding Echelon. The existence of the Echelon system did not provide intelligence services with information about the attacks in the U.S., and as a result we are concerned that Echelon and similar systems threaten the rights of all European citizens without achieving their stated goals. It is not likely that more legal possibilities and funding for signals intelligence would change the current situation.

We urge Europe's leaders to defend and promote the right of private and secure communications through the use of encryption. To restrict the use of cryptography will negatively affect the security of our communications infrastructure, further damage trust in our economy, and will restrict the rights of individuals, without affecting the
capabilities of terrorists. We urge Europe's leaders to carefully take the recommendations of the European parliament regarding the Echelon report into account and stimulate the use of open-source encryption technology.

Also we urge European leaders not to implement legislation that mandates internet and telecommunication service providers to retain traffic data for law enforcement purposes. Retention of traffic data will in effect transform our communications infrastructure into a surveillance system that records intimate details of the personal life of all citizens.

We, the undersigned European NGOs concerned with privacy and civil liberties, look forward to working with Europe's leaders on these issues. As we all deliberate on how to proceed and the lessons we may have learned from the sad events in the U.S., we must resist the political temptation to act hastily.

Signed by,

Bits of Freedom, Netherlands, http://www.bof.nl  +31204686451 info@bof.nl
Chaos Computer Club, Germany http://www.ccc.de +493030871715 presse@ccc.de
Digital Rights, Denmark, http://www.digitalrights.dk +4526227133 phs@digitalrights.dk
Fitug, Germany, http://www.fitug.de +498999637991, info@fitug.de
Foundation for Information Policy Research, UK, http://www.fipr.org,+442073542333, cb@fipr.org
Privacy International UK, http://www.privacyinternational.org +447958466552, pi@privacy.org
Quintessenz, Austria, http://www.quintessenz.at +4369911213011 h@quintessenz.at



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