Habeas Corpus in a Surveillance Society

In 1679 the British parliament adopted the Habeas Corpus Act as a major step forward in
securing the right to a judge in times of rival jurisdictions and conflicts of laws. Nowadays
our democracies ensure proper rights for a convicted or detainee who is in person physically
subject to a criminal proceeding or deferred to a court. But his or her data, as posted,
processed, stored and tracked on digital networks form a “body of personal data”, a kind of
digital body specific to every individual and enabling to reveal much of his or her identity,
habits and preferences of all types.

Habeas Corpus is recognised as a fundamental legal instrument to safeguarding individual
freedom against arbitrary state action. What is needed today is an extension of Habeas Corpus
to the digital era. Right to privacy, respect of the integrity and the dignity of the individual are
at stake.

From the draft report by the @Europarl_EN LIBE Committee on the US NSA surveillance program.

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