Millions of Britons face being snooped on by a new European intelligence agency which has been handed frightening powers to pry into our lives.
Europol can access personal information on anyone – including their political opinions and sexual preferences – if it suspects, rightly or wrongly, that they may be involved in any “preparatory act” which could lead to criminal activity.
The vagueness of the Hague-based force’s remit sparked furious protests yesterday with critics warning that the EU snoopers threaten our right to free speech.
It is understood the agency will concentrate on anyone thought “xenophobic” or likely to commit a crime involving the environment, computers or motor vehicles.
This could include covert monitoring of people who deny the existence of climate change or speak out on controversial issues.
Paul Nuttall, chairman of the UK Independence Party, said: “I am horrified. We thought Gordon Brown’s Big Brother state was bad enough but at least we are going to kick him out in May. These guys we cannot sack until we leave the EU.”
James Welch, legal director of campaign group Liberty, said: “We have huge concerns that Europol appears to have been given powers to hold very sensitive information and to investigate matters that aren’t even crimes in this country. Any extension of police powers at any level needs to be properly debated and scrutinised.”
More information in the source.