Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The UK backs ditching "adequate" data protection

Sounds boring, eh? Especially when you find out that the EU, the most boring institution in the world bar the International Confederation of Accountancy and Algebra, is also involved.

However, following earlier outrage from the elected portion of the EU over plans to rubber-stamp the unilateral transfer of transatlantic air passenger data to US law enforcement agencies (visiting Auntie Flo in Toronto? Congratulations! You've won a CIA file with a bonus FBI record thrown in for free!), today MEPs will be voting on proposals to reduce the protection of our personal data that to date we have all (perhaps unknowingly) enjoyed.

Germany, Denmark, Spain, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and the UK all appear to support the removal of the current European Commission restrictions that data can only be exchanged with non-EU states if “an adequate level of data protection is ensured in the third country”.

This would, in turn, free up the powers that be (guided down this path at the request of the US by our own dear Tony Blair during last year's UK presidency of the EU) to push even harder for the EU to approve the hand-over of detailed information on everyone who flies to North America from the EU when MEPs vote on the "EU/USA agreement on the use of passenger name record to prevent and combat terrorism and transnational crime, including organised crime" proposals tomorrow morning.

So, considering that our government is apparently so keen to overturn EU guidelines on protecting our privacy and to hand over various bits of private information to a foreign government (with no reciprocal handover of data on that country's citizens) - and especially considering that once again they are sneaking this in via the less heavily scrutinised EU - how far can we really trust our dear lords and masters when they tell us that our details will be safe once on their various planned identity databases?

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