A Tale of Two States: Rule of Law in the Age of Terrorism

As a reaction to the recent terrorist attacks in France, several EU member states as well as the EU itself have announced significant anti-terrorism measures.

Even well before the French facts, the UK proposed to isolate suspected terrorists, withdrawing and confiscating their passports to prevent them from entering and leaving the country. This is in line with the aggressive policies of both the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.

France, while rhethorically distancing itself from the American Patriot Act, seems to do substantially the same, as President François Hollande announced that he wants to close the online websites suspected of fomenting terrorism. Not even the United States has adopted a measure of such gravity, suffocating the freedom of speech and thought. The US may be responsible for the distant and pervasive control of our private life but it still insists on an open market place of ideas as an undefeatable antidote against the violence spreading germs.

Germany has announced, together with the suspension of the ID card, based on the English model, other measures aimed to reinforce the dialogue between police and intelligence, upholding a demand for cooperation raised by multiple European voices.

The European Union seems to have set definitely aside the very strong querelle between privacy and security with regard to the subject-matter of PNR, i.e. the personal number record of passengers. This is an ID of single passengers which put together miscellaneous data of various nature, from the personal data to the information about how they paid, what they have eaten, which newspaper they have asked for on board or incidentally their sanitary requirements. Clearly, these data, if properly cross-examined, could be very useful to find out their political or religious thoughts ...

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