Privacy at stake

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Holyrood was right to criticise Westminster for its “last-minute” rush to introduce legislation to “enable police and security services to continue to access internet and phone records” (your report, 11 July).

There has been plenty of time to respond earlier to the European Court’s April ruling that this was unlawful (the Scottish Government itself presumably has also been able to tackle this earlier too, off its own bat, if only by interacting with Westminster).

However, this does not resolve tackling the dilemma of how to preserve individuals’ privacy when terrorists strive, both in the UK and globally, to destroy our free-wheeling culture.

Ian Sparks article (International, 11 July) about the French police’s foiling of a plot to blow up numerous public structures including the Eiffel Tower illustrates the apparent impossibility of maintaining personal freedoms when faced with those who work within their shelter and are unswervingly intent on destroying them.

France apparently permits, indeed encourages, monitoring e-mails’ and the contents of texts and telephone calls, not just the communication data on the senders and recipients: this has reportedly helped lead to 225 arrests for terrorism offences.

While there are intense further deliberations about how to avoid impacting further on individual liberties, terrorism continues unabated, so it seems to come down to identifying to what extent society can accept the now-permanent real risk to persons and property by resisting intrusions on private lives. Perhaps we have reached the point of saying that any risk to people is one too many, so let’s crack down and gather as much information as we can about everyone willy-nilly. I hope not, but where then to strike a ­balance?

Joe Darby


Dingwall Ross-shire

Before the advent of sophisticated electronic surveillance the defence of personal privacy was a matter for the individual. Not now.

The objections of Justice Secretary Kenny Mac­Askill to emergency legislation in this regard (your report, 11 July) lack nothing in moral rectitude but seem to ignore reality.

Clearly a very real threat to the safety of the people has been identified. The response has to be swift or it will be ineffective and possibly catastrophic. No government would have acted differently.

Peter Laidlaw

Bramdean Rise