Terrorism Takes Toll on Privacy Worldwide. (Up Front: News, Trends & Analysis)

Article excerpt

Privacy has become an unwitting victim of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and the subsequent war on terrorism. But privacy is not just in danger in the United States. According to a recent report by privacy activist organizations Electronic Privacy Information Center and Privacy International, many countries have passed new laws that value increased security over personal privacy. In addition to U.S. laws, the report lists new anti-terrorism legislation in Australia, Austria, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Singapore, and Sweden.

Many of the laws, the report notes, have been proposed and rejected for years, only to gain acceptance after the September 11, 2001, attacks. As a result, governments worldwide have made it easier for authorities to expand citizen databases and eavesdrop on telephone and online conversations under the auspices of fighting terrorism. For example, U.S. anti-terror legislation lowered the bar on authorities' surveillance requirements.

In June, the European Union allowed its member states to require that Internet providers retain traffic and location data of all people using any electronic communications device, including mobile phones, faxes, e-mail, and the Internet. The Russian internal security service recently tried to order all Internet providers to install surveillance software, at the company's cost, so that police could perform instant searches without a warrant. There also is increased interest in personal surveillance through biometrics technology and spy cameras. …