Privacy: too little or too much?

By Kay Wallace for La Repubblica



In the last few days, journalists in the USA and the UK have been getting worked up about individual privacy in the wake of the Prism scandal. At the same time, Italian journalists were arguing that you can sometimes have too much privacy.

The Italian media has been full of the news that the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) has been eavesdropping on British citizens. After reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) is using a powerful new technology to keep an eye on millions of individuals’ online activities, collecting information directly from internet servers, it now seems that GCHQ has been using the same technology since June 2010. Interviewed on the BBC, Foreign Secretary William Hague refused to confirm or deny the claims, trotting out the usual justification that governments and security services everywhere use when accused of invading their citizens’ privacy:

“If you are a law-abiding citizen of this country going about your business and personal life, you have nothing to fear about the British state or intelligence agencies listening to the content of your phone calls or anything like that.”

An Italian expert in internet and telecommunications law, Fulvio Sarzana, reacted to the news by claiming that his country has no need for such sophisticated technologies, because a law passed at the beginning of this year by the outgoing Monti government gives Italian intelligence services even greater powers.

In his blog, Saranza writes that the “Directive concerning guidelines for the protection of national cyber security” forces telecommunications operators and internet service providers to allow security services access to their databases for unspecified “security” purposes. It goes even further, forcing those who run airports, dams, energy company and transport services, among others, to do likewise. No court order is required and there is no supervision by the Authority for the Protection of Persona Data.


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Fulvio Sarzana
Studio Legale Roma Sarzana & Associati
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