Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Surveillance society goes international

By Libby

The Bush administration has been treating international travelers like criminals for a long time now and keeps demanding even more onerous infringements on privacy such as requiring EU states "to supply personal data on all air passengers overflying but not landing in the US in order to gain or retain visa-free travel to America." Well, two can play that game and now the EU jumps on the bandwagon.
The European Commission will propose Wednesday that all foreign travelers into and out of Europe, including U.S. citizens, should be fingerprinted. If approved by the European Parliament, the measure would mean that precisely identifying information on tens of millions of citizens will be added in coming years to databases that could be shared by friendly governments around the globe.
At this rate it won't be long before there will be no place on earth that is free of overweening scrutiny of our everyday lives by every single government.
The plan is part of a vast and growing trend -- especially across the Atlantic -- to collect and share data electronically for the purposes of tracking and identifying people in the name of national security and immigration control. U.S. government computers now have access to data on financial transactions; air travel details such as name, itinerary and credit card numbers; and the names of those sending and receiving express-mail packages -- even a description of the contents.
Meanwhile, the latest trend at US customs checkpoints is the seizing of laptops, cameras and cell phones from legitimate business travelers. In many cases the items are either not returned at all or information on the device has been tampered with before it's released back to the owner.

So they're building overloaded databases chock full of our most personal information and personal electronic storage devices are being seized without warrants and deliberately compromised by government authorities. What possibly could go wrong with that?

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