The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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It may take some years to fully evaluate the effects of September 11, 2001 on privacy and civil liberties. Shortly after the events of that day, previous proposals were re-introduced, and new policies with similar objectives were drafted to extend police surveillance authority. The policy changes were not limited to the United States of America, as a large number of countries responded to the threat of terrorism. The country reports in this survey outline, in more detail, the many legislative shifts that took place around the world.

It was a time of fear, flux and uncertainty. The United Nations responded...calling on increased cooperation between countries to prevent and suppress terrorism. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization invoked Article 5, claiming an attack on any NATO member country is an attack on all of NATO...The council of Europe condemned the attacks, called for solidarity, and also called for increased cooperation in criminal matters. Later the council of Europe parliamentary assembly called on countries to ratify conventions combating terrorism, lift any reservations in these agreements, extend the mandate of police working groups to include “terrorist messages”...

The European Union responded similarly, pushing for a European arrest warrant, common legislative frameworks for terrorism, increasing intelligence and police cooperation, freezing assets and ensuring passage of the money laundering. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development furthered its support for the financial action task force on money laundering and, along with the G-7 and the European Commission, called for the extension of its mandate to combat terrorist financing. These calls for international cooperation were perceived by many as impetus to create new laws.

The European Commission considered requiring every member state of the European Union to make cyber-attacks punishable as a terrorist offence. New Zealand minimized public consultation on a proposed law to freeze the financial assets of suspected terrorists because the government felt it was bound by UN security council resolutions. France expanded police powers to search private property without warrants. Germany reduced authorization restraints on interception of communications, and increased data sharing between law enforcement and national security agencies. Australia and Canada both introduced laws to redefine terrorist activity and to grant powers of surveillance to national security agencies...for domestic purposes if terrorist activity or a terrorist affiliation is suspected. India passed a law to allow authorities to detain suspects without trial, conduct increased wiretapping, and seize funds and property. The United Kingdom passed a law permitting the retention of data for law enforcement purposes in contravention to existing data protection rules. The US passed a number of laws...which increases surveillance powers and minimizes oversight and due process requirements.

The above list of international and national initiatives is not exhaustive. New policies are being proposed every week with the goal of investigating... and suppressing terrorist activity. However, within this deluge of new policy proposals, a number of trends may be identified.

Almost every country that changed its laws to reflect the environment following September 2001 increased the ability of law enforcement and national security agencies to perform interception of communications, and transformed the powers of search and seizure, and an increase in the type of data that can be accessed.

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