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Data protectionist says Big Brother is already here

Craig Morris / heise online | April 12 2006

Hamburg's data protection officer Hartmut Lumbomierski says that citizens should not put up with blanket electronic monitoring. "Liberty cannot be traded in for security," the data protectionist explained on Tuesday when presenting his progress report for 2004/2005 (PDF file). Lubomierski said that records of communication and consumption have never before been as comprehensive as they are today. "Big Brother" is a reality, he explained, adding that little attention is paid to data protection. Hamburg's data protection czar called for a "restoration of the balance between freedom and security."

As he put it, everyone "principally has the right to spend time in public spaces without being monitored and recorded." He said that video monitoring should not be expanded to other streets and squares in Hamburg before the video monitoring on the famous Reeperbahn street has been "carefully, independently, and neutrally evaluated." At the same time, Lubomierski stated his opposition to "video monitoring in schools to keep an eye on classroom activities and how schools are operating." Such monitoring should be restricted to preventing criminal activity; "otherwise, the floodgates are open."

The data protectionist reminded us that "the structures of information society have to be focused on free, voluntary communication." He therefore called for an end to the retention of telecommunications data and said that it should be possible to access the Internet anonymously. He said that now "every click" is registered.

Lubomierski also criticized the security measures taken for the football World Cup. Apparently, he explained, "the stadiums are to be made into fortresses." He also argued that the comprehensive checks of everyone from "journalists to sausage sellers by Germany's Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the country's Intelligence Services has no legal basis." He expressed his surprise that "none of the people affected have taken this matter to court.".

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