European Parliament

20 years since 9/11: Stop fundamental rights terrorism!

It is now been 20 years since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center that cost thousands of lives. And to this day we suffer from the wrong political reactions.

Out of fear of attacks, our open society has developed into a society of mistrust in which everyone is treated as a potential terrorist and monitored and observed without reason. I call this security mania fundamental rights terror, because our fundamental rights are supposed to guarantee that we are protected from such total surveillance.

The increasing electronic monitoring and surveillance of the entire population does not better protect against crime, costs millions and endangers the privacy of innocent people.

Data breaches and misuse are the order of the day, and people are increasingly being wrongly suspected or even convicted due to erroneous data retention. Security mania discriminates against political, ethnic and religious minorities because it is suspicious of everything that is different.

When fear and knee-jerk reactions rule, targeted and sustainable measures to strengthen security fall by the wayside, as does addressing real problems (e.g. social injustice).

In addition, those who feel constantly monitored and observed can no longer stand up for their rights and a just society in an unbiased and courageous manner. In this way, an uncritical consumer society gradually emerges, consisting of people who have “nothing to hide” and give up their rights of freedom to the state – in order to supposedly guarantee total security. Such a rigid surveillance society is not worth living in!

Excessive surveillance measures, whether in response to terrorism or other crimes, pose a serious threat. There is an immediate need for action to restore the balance between freedom and security and thus our right to privacy.

In order to preserve our rights and freedoms and to ensure the efficiency of law enforcement, we Pirates demand that only those people who are suspected of preparing or committing a crime should be monitored or have their data stored. The common practice of indiscriminately collecting, storing and comparing information on everyone without justifiable cause is unacceptable.

The EU has also increasingly taken the wrong path in the past, for example with the indiscriminate retention of air passenger data or with the development of a “video lie detector”. With TERREG, rapid internet censorship against “terrorist content” was introduced, our train and boat journeys are to be stored in future without cause and indiscriminate data retention of our interactions and movements is also creeping back. Most recently, the indiscriminate, automated and unreliable scanning of private communications for suspicious content (child pornography) was permitted.

We must stop the progressive dismantlement of civil rights, which has now taken on dramatic proportions. As Rachel North, a survivor of the terrorist attacks on the London Underground[1] put it:

„Giving up freedom does not make us safe from terror.“[2] But as any parent knows, it is not always possible to keep those you love safe, and a person who is always safe is a person who never knows freedom and who has no life. … For no government can keep us safe, even if they watch over us and film us and check our emails and internet use and hold our most intimate data and fill hundreds of prison cells with people who are merely suspected of, but not charged with, any crime. …

I expect terrorists to attack our way of life and to try to use fear to divide us and change our behaviour. I do not expect our government to do the same, nor us to collude in giving up our ancient liberties and thus to do the terrorists’ work for them. …

More than half those arrested for terrorism so far have been found to be entirely innocent, while terrorism laws have been used to harass ordinary people: poets and protesters, chefs and pensioners, students and parents and priests. People like you and me. …

We have a choice: whether we focus on our fears or our freedoms. … I pray that we have the courage to stand up for the freedoms our enemies want to destroy and older generations died to protect; whatever our party politics, whatever our background, we must say that our liberty is our security and our freedoms the key to unlock our fears and let us breathe and live and love and work as we want to. …

I am glad to stand shoulder to shoulder with people from all across the political spectrum, knowing that freedom is something worth standing for, worth fighting for, worth dying for.“[3]

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