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  21 September 2001

European privacy and civil liberties organisations urge European leaders to defend citizens' freedoms

Seven European privacy and civil liberties organisations have urged European leaders to defend citizens' freedoms in the wake of the attack on the USA. In an open letter to the extraordinary informal meeting of the European Council scheduled for Friday evening in Brussels the organisations ask European leaders to refrain from new and extended communications interception and lawful access powers for police forces and intelligences services.

The organisations from Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom question the effectiveness and proportionality of such capabilities and warn against the grave loss of privacy that those measures would lead to.

The open letter also urges to defend and promote the right of private and secure communications through the use of encryption. "To restrict the use of cryptography will negatively affect the security of our communications infrastructure, further damage trust in our economy, and will restrict the rights of individuals, without affecting the capabilities of terrorists. We urge Europe's leaders to carefully take the recommendations of the European parliament regarding the Echelon report into account and stimulate the use of open-source encryption technology."