States should justify their interference – not vice versa

“Freedom has been compromised in the fight against terrorism after 11 September. Government decisions have undermined human rights principles with flawed arguments about improved security …. Not only terrorism, but also our reaction to it pose a long-term, ingrained threat to human rights. The time has come to review steps taken to collect, store, analyse, share and use personal data.” The words of Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg, in a CoE press release on 4th December 2008.

“In the war on terror, the notion of privacy has been altered,” he continues. “General surveillance raises serious democratic problems which are not answered by the repeated assertion that those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear. This puts the onus in the wrong place – it should be for States to justify the interferences they seek to make on privacy rights.”

How do we row back?

But what to do about it? How do we counter the mistakes of over-enthusiastic officialdom? How do we combat growing interference in our lives? And where do we start?

These and similar issues are the focus of “The Convention on Modern Liberty”, in London on 28th February 2009. For more information, go to http://www.modernliberty.net/. See also this Guardian article http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/25/civilliberties from Convention coordinator Henry Porter.

Are you concerned about threats to your individual freedoms? Are you worried about growing state power? Do you believe that democracy is built by empowered citizens rather than by fear? Then get involved. Join in.