Post-Sept. 11 surveillance impact studied

September 14, 2005

A Canadian study indicates people four years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are becoming uncomfortable with increased government surveillance.

Dr. Kevin Haggerty, director of the criminology program at the University of Alberta, notes immediately after the terrorist attacks, both U.S. and Canadian officials quickly increased surveillance of their citizens.

But now, four years later, Haggerty says suspicion of government leaders' motives has heightened, with more people questioning the greater invasion of their privacy.

"Right after (Sept. 11) it was impossible for anyone to say no to anything that would purportedly increase security," said Haggerty, who co-authored a paper on the subject published in the Canadian Journal of Sociology.

The ability of lawmakers to monitor our Internet use, financial transactions, personal movements and cell phone use had previously been proposed and rejected as unwarranted privacy invasions.

But now he said polling numbers indicate people are now looking more critically at the impact on their civil liberties -- "the cornerstone of a liberal democracy."

"Without a sense of privacy, we tend to self-censor and don't say what we really think," he said. "It's hard to quantify, but it's a huge loss."

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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