EU Justice Head Wants to Sharpen Anti-Terror Measures | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 06.11.2007
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EU Justice Head Wants to Sharpen Anti-Terror Measures

The European Union's top justice official proposed a series of anti-terror measures including an EU-wide system of sharing airline passenger flight details and a ban on Web-based incitement to violence.

Image of terrorist on computer screen

Frattini said the plan would help identify terrorists who would otherwise remain unknown

In Brussels on Tuesday, Nov. 6, EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said Europe "cannot be complacent" against the threat of new attacks on the continent. Earlier this week, EU anti-terror experts warned that more attacks by Islamic extremists were likely.

"Terrorists will strike whenever, wherever and with whatever means to make the most impact," the commissioner said.

To counter the threat, Frattini has proposed new anti-terror measures that range from criminalizing the incitement of violence on the Internet and the recruitment volunteers for attacks, to collecting data from airline passengers flying into the 27-member EU bloc.

Frattini said his proposals, which would have to be unanimously approved by EU governments to become law, were necessary to safeguard citizens. He would like to see them implemented by the end of next year.

Storing of passenger data

EU Interior and Justice Commissioner, Italian Franco Frattini

Frattini wants to raise the standard of the EU's anti-terror measures

The most contentious of Frattini's plans is for EU countries to adopt airline security measures like those in the United States, which would include saving passenger data for up to 13 years and making the data available to law enforcement agents like police and customs officers, who may part of anti-terror activities or investigations.

The data collected on passengers flying to or from non-EU member states would include the e-mail address and phone number of the passenger, ticket and travel agent information, and payment details, and would be provided 24 hours before departure.

The scheme resembles a system put in place in the United States after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and the EU, in July, agreed to relinquish personal data about passengers flying to the United States. Privacy advocates have heaped criticism on both the US system and the Frattini's plan.

Separate security proposal

People inside a US airport

The EU already hands over data on passengers flying to the US

Another of Frattini's security proposals includes EU governments treating as criminal offenses all public incitement to terrorism, as well as terrorist recruitment. Under the proposal, it would also be illegal to provide terrorist training information, particularly on the Internet.

"The Internet serves ... as one of the principal boosters of the processes of radicalization and recruitment and also serves as a source of information on terrorist means and methods, thus functioning as a virtual training camp," the proposal said.

However, in an attempt to tone down criticism from civil liberties campaigners, Frattini's plan specifies that this new measure may not be used to restrict the dissemination of information for scientific, academic or reporting purposes.

The civil liberties monitoring organization Statewatch said the plans could potentially target simply for expressing a political opinion.

"The wording of this definition is clearly likely to result in the criminalization of the expression of political views ... even if that expression does not in any way include the advocacy of terrorism to support those opinions," it said in a statement. "This proposal could even be counter-productive, radicalizing others who share those beliefs and increasing rather than decreasing the number of violent terrorists in the EU."

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