Why the demand for more digital monitoring after terrorist attacks is disingenuous, based on the example of the storage of air passenger data:

1. ALL flight data are now already saved and archived. Anyone who books a flight is recorded electronically; anyone who is issued with a boarding pass is recorded electronically. NOW ALREADY. Or has anyone caught a flight in the last few years without making a computer booking?

2. The police and intelligence services can NOW ALREADY access these data in their investigations if suspicion has been aroused.

3. The terrorists in the Charlie Hebdo case were suspects; they were on every conceivable terrorist list and their flight movements could be monitored at any time. NOW ALREADY.

4. If new suspects come to light tomorrow, their flight data can be searched and found in the databases NOW ALREADY existing and their flight movements can be reconstructed.

5. Data privacy advocates do not object to the current practice. Conducting investigations into suspects is more than merely legitimate.

6. The monitoring of air passenger data now being propagated by governments and intelligence services amounts to a complete and continuous surveillance of all people, i.e. even NON-SUSPECTS. The proposal tabled by the governments goes beyond the one put forward by the Commission and also includes flights within the EU. How a complete list of all the passengers who fly between Vienna and Berlin, London or Paris is supposed to provide information and clues about terrorists is a mystery to me.

7. Lone operators or small groups of conspirators like the Paris or Madrid attackers coordinate their attacks by talking to each other in person and not by electronic means. An attack of the kind mounted on Utoya or Charlie Hebdo requires no electronic communication whatsoever. What these assassinations do require is weapons. Why is there no discussion about tougher measures and stricter control of weapons? Why are efforts to step up security not focused on preventing attackers from getting their hands on a Kalashnikov?

Posted by Michel Reimon