The Emergence of a Global Infrastructure for Mass Registration and Surveillance - Report

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Report from International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance, Published April 2005

On September 11, 2001 a number of persons supported by networks inside and outside of the United States executed one of the largest attacks ever made against civilians on American soil.

The Bush Administration responded quickly by propelling the USA PATRIOT ACT and other legislation through Congress that it said would fight terrorism, and by demanding that other countries follow the template provided by these pieces of legislation. Much of the Bush Administration’s agenda was backed by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373, under which member states failing to comply risked Security Council sanctions. But the agenda was also backed by the economic, political and military might of the United States. Under this pressure, and often for their own opportunistic reasons, many governments in the North and South, East and West have followed suit with a growing web of anti-terrorism laws and measures.

The result has been an emerging trend toward the harmonization and integration of security functions on a global scale. In democratic countries, this has led to a rollback of rights, freedoms, and civil liberties that have been won by centuries of popular struggle. In undemocratic countries, repressive regimes have been enabled and strengthened, and development assistance has been diverted to bolster security apparatuses. Internationally, the post- World War II order – which enshrines the universal, inalienable human rights of all individuals – has been seriously eroded.

Governments have been telling us that we must be willing to sacrifice some of our freedoms for greater security. Authorities say they need extraordinary powers to protect us from terrorists, and that we should be willing to put up with some inconvenience and invasion of privacy. Those who have nothing to hide, we are told, have nothing to fear.

But in this new world where individuals are expected to hide little from governments, governments are hiding a lot. And, there is a lot to be feared.

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