Kirkhope: Remember who the real enemy is in the internet data row

11-Jun-2013 @ 11:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Politicians debating the Prism internet-data controversy should not lose sight of who the real enemy is, a senior Conservative MEP warned today.
Addressing an emergency debate in Strasbourg, Timothy Kirkhope appealed to the European Parliament to avoid grandstanding and anti-Americanism.
And the Yorkshire MEP cautioned against jumping to conclusions or pointing fingers.
Mr Kirkhope, Conservative spokesman on Justice and Home Affairs and himself a former Home Office minister, said: "This debate is about increasing the trust and faith of citizens, in holding to account the governments and agencies which serve and protect our citizens.
"Those companies already named and shamed have so far denied acting outside of the law. Governments and the European Commission have expressed concern, but rightly acknowledge that it is too early to draw final conclusions.
"Yet here we are already pointing the finger, with some of you already expressing the strong anti-American and anti-commission rhetoric that is all too familiar, as is the opportunism and grandstanding without pausing to gather of facts or proof.
"Protecting citizens from modern threats is a balancing act. Intelligence agencies are often lambasted for not acting soon enough, and then equally condemned for going too far. Their successes are celebrated in private, but their failings are only too public.
"Increasingly terrorists and organised criminal groups use information and technology against innocent citizens. Therefore, there must be an expectation that the same technology will be used in our response. But that information must, of course, be used and respected within the confines of democratic principles and legal oversight.
"We must understand that we do not gain more freedoms by taking others away, and that our greatest asset will always be the rule of law.
"That is why sometimes it is necessary for us as politicians to remind those with "less visible" power that ensuring freedom and the safety of our citizens must not come at the price of sacrificing democracy.
"But it might also be worth some people in this room remembering who the real enemy is, and where it is, and that when we deal with allies, and when we want answers and the truth, that friends listen most when you talk, and not when you shout."

The speech can be viewed online at: http://youtu.be/S7is4hX-EX4
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