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IN THE PRESS

An overview of the stories making the French and international newspaper headlines. From Monday to Friday live at 7.20 am and 9.20 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2009-10-26

Contoversy in UK over police databases for “domestic extremists”

Several articles in today’s press cover infringements of civil liberties by UK authorities.

A report in 2007 placed Britain in the bottom five countries for its record on privacy and surveillance, says the International Herald Tribune. The paper reports on one Briton who is fighting back.

Jenny Paton wanted to get her children into a local school in the town of Poole but authorities suspected of her of having falsified her address. To confirm this, local authorities started spying on her. They obtained copies of her phone billing records and one official followed her and logged the movements of the woman and her three children. Under a law enacted in 2000, it is fully legal for local authorities to follow residents secretly.

Jenny Paton is outraged at this infringement of her privacy. “The government has absolutely no interest in spying on law-abiding people.”

In a recent House of Lords Constitution Committee report it was stated, “Successive UK governments have gradually constructed one of the most extensive and technologically advanced surveillance systems in the world.”

In a related story, today’s Guardian leads with police databases that are logging ‘domestic extremists’.

This is the kind of document the police now have access to.

It’s a spotter card, issued by police to identify individuals they consider to be trouble-makers because they have appeared at a number of demonstrations.

This card was dropped by police at a demonstration against Britain’s largest arms fair in 2005.

Databases have been compiled with photos of citizens who are considered a possible threat – activists and demonstrators for the most part who have no criminal record. They are called “domestic extremists” by the police – a term which has no legal basis, the Guardian says.

What’s more vehicles associated with protesters are being tracked via a nationwide system of automatic number plate recognition cameras. One man who has no criminal record was stopped 25 times in less than three years after a ‘protest marker’ was placed against his car after he attended a small protest against duck and pheasant shooting.

Other stories in today’s international papers:

Taggesspiegel
Opposition SPD party chief accuses German coalition government of social injustice and the breaking of election promises

New York Times
For News, Canada’s Leader Looks South of the Border

Sydney Morning Herald
The Sydney Harbour Bridge was closed yesterday morning for a picnic with 6,000 people attending

The Independent
School with a zoo is named UK’s greenest
 

By James CREEDON

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