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Net Firms Start Storing User Data

BBC News
Monday, 6 April 2009

Details of your e-mails will be recorded
Details of user e-mails and net phone calls will be stored by internet service providers (ISPs) from Monday under an EU directive.

The plans were drawn up in the wake of the London bombings in 2005.

ISPs and telecoms firms have resisted the proposals while some countries in the EU are contesting the directive.

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said it was a "crazy directive" with potentially dangerous repercussions for citizens.

All ISPs in the European Union will have to store the records for a year. An EU directive which requires telecoms firms to hold on to telephone records for 12 months is already in force.

The data stored does not include the content of e-mails or a recording of a net phone call, but is used to determine connections between individuals.

Authorities can get access to the stored records with a warrant.

Governments across the EU have now started to implement the directive into their own national legislation.

The UK Home Office, responsible for matters of policing and national security, said the measure had "effective safeguards" in place.

There is concern that access to our data is widening to include many public bodies

ISPs across Europe have complained about the extra costs involved in maintaining the records. The UK government has agreed to reimburse ISPs for the cost of retaining the data.

Mr Killock said the directive was passed only by "stretching the law".

The EU passed it by "saying it was a commercial matter and not a police matter", he explained.

"Because of that they got it through on a simple vote, rather than needing unanimity, which is required for policing matters," he said.

Sense of shock

He added: "It was introduced in the wake of the London bombings when there was a sense of shock in Europe. It was used to push people in a particular direction."

Sweden has decided to ignore the directive completely while there is a challenge going through the German courts at present.

"Hopefully, we can see some sort of challenge to this directive," said Mr Killock.

Isabella Sankey, Policy Director at Liberty, said the directive formalised what had already been taking place under voluntary arrangement for years.

"The problem is that this regime allows not just police to access this information but hundreds of other public bodies."

In a statement, the Home Office said it was implementing the directive because it was the government's priority to "protect public safety and national security".

It added: "Communications data is the where and when of the communication and plays a vital part in a wide range of criminal investigations and prevention of terrorist attacks, as well as contributing to public safety more generally.

"Without communications data resolving crimes such as the Rhys Jones murder would be very difficult if not impossible.

"Access to communications data is governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa) which ensures that effective safeguards are in place and that the data can only be accessed when it is necessary and proportionate to do so."

Please note, in an earlier version of this story we incorrectly stated that ISPs would be storing details of website visits. This is not the case.

It is also quite likely that non-EU governments have similar measures in place. This is a blanket law that has obvious implications for freedom of, eg. political or religious association, and tends to treat ordinary citizens as suspects. One might question the place of such a law in a liberal democracy. A more reasonable alternative might be an intelligence-led targeted approach for suspected threats, rather than targeting everyone indiscriminately.



Wherefore, if, in the noble city of Rome, any book is to be printed, let it be first examined by the vicar of the Supreme Pontiff, and the master of the sacred palace, or by persons appointed by our most holy lord. But in other places, let its examination and approval belong to the bishop, or to another having knowledge of the book or writing to be printed, such person to be appointed by the same bishop, and an inquisitor of heretical depravity, of that state or diocese in which the printing will be executed, and let it be approved by their hand, to be imposed by their subscription gratuitously, and without delay, under the punishments and censures contained in the same decree, with the addition of this law and condition, that an authentic copy of the work to be printed, subscribed by the author, shall remain with the examiner; but the deputed fathers judge that those who issue manuscript works, unless they are first examined and approved, should be subjected to the same penalties as the printers: and they who retain and read them should be held as the authors unless they give up the authors. But let the approbation itself be given in writing,

* — Canones et Decreta Conc. Trid., Regula x., De Lib. Prohib., pp. 235-6. Lipsiae, 1863.
Catechism of the Council of Trent

and let it appear authentically in the front of the book, whether manuscript or printed; and let the proving and examination, and all the rest, be attended to gratuitously. Moreover, in the several states and dioceses, let the houses or places where printing is performed, and libraries of books are for sale, be frequently visited by persons deputed for that object by the bishop, or by his vicar, and also by the inquisitor of heretical depravity, that none of the prohibited things may be printed, sold, or kept. Let all librarians and booksellers have in their libraries a catalogue of the books for sale which they keep, with the subscription of said persons. And let them keep or sell no other books, or by any means deliver them, without the license of the same deputies, under the penalty of the confiscation of the books, or other punishments to be inflicted at the discretion of the bishops or inquisitors. And let the buyers, readers, and printers be punished at the discretion of the same. But if any persons introduce any books whatsoever into any state, let them be bound to report them to the same deputies; or, if a public place has been appointed for such wares, let the public servants of that place signify to the persons aforesaid that books have been brought. Let no one dare to deliver a book which he himself or another has introduced into a state, to any one to read, or by any means to transfer or lend it, unless the book has first been shown, and a license obtained from the deputies, or unless it is notoriously clear that the book is now permitted to all. Let the same thing also be done by heirs and executors of last wills, that they may present the books left by the departed, or a catalogue of them, to those deputies, and obtain a license from them, before they use them, or in any way transfer them to other persons. But in all and each of these particulars, let the punishment be fixed either by the loss of the books, or by some other pains, at the discretion of the same bishops or inquisitors, according to the character of the contumacy or the crime. . . . . . In conclusion, it is enjoined upon all the faithful, that no one presume, against the authority of these rules, or the prohibition of this Index, to retain or read any books. But if any one shall keep or read the books of heretics, or the writings of any author condemned and prohibited for heresy, or for the suspicion of a false dogma, let him immediately incur the sentence of excommunication. But he who shall read or keep books interdicted on any other account, besides the guilt of mortal sin, with which he is affected, let him be punished severely at the discretion of the bishop."

Pius IV., entering with his whole heart into the oppressive spirit which governed the Council of Trent in most of its decrees, after reading these ten rules, and submitting them for examination to some learned men, sent them forth with his approbation in a bull eulogistic of their tenor and claims, in which he says:

* — Pius IV., Ad Futuram Rei Memoriam, p. 237, Canones et Decreta. Conc. Trid. Lipsiae, 1862.

* "By our apostolic authority, we approve, by these presents, the Index itself, together with the rules prefixed to it; and we command and decree that it be printed and published, and that it be received everywhere by all Catholic universities, and by every one whatsoever; and that these rules be observed; prohibiting each and all, as well ecclesiastics, secular and regular, of every grade, order and dignity, as laymen, no matter what their honor and dignity, that no one may dare to keep or read any books contrary to the command of these rules, and the prohibition of the index itself."

This bull was issued on the 24th of March, 1564, and is binding on all Catholics, and on the whole Protestant world at this moment. No canon about the mass stands more defiantly on the statute book of Rome than the decree of Pope Pius, giving validity to these rules. There is no likelihood of their repeal; such an act would declare infallibility to be liable to grave mistakes, and have a tendency to overturn the whole pyramid of Papal pretensions. But Rome seeks no change. The Church of the popes to-day, in the principles of those who dictate her great movements, is of one mind with Pius IV. and the fathers of Trent, and would, if she had the opportunity, chain the flashes of human genius, the imperial mountain-billows of that intellect which only God can imprison or guide.

The tenth rule prohibits the circulation of all printed matter, and even manuscript works, unless permitted by a Catholic bishop or inquisitor, or their deputies, on pain of losing the books, and of enduring any other punishment the bishop or the inquisitor may choose to inflict.

It places the literature of the world in the hands of men who thrust Galileo into the Inquisition for his astronomical doctrines, and compelled him to deny that the earth moves, and who have the greatest jealousy of all light; who, if they had power, would restore the blindness of the Dark Ages, and perpetuate its ignorance and tyranny till the blasts of the last trumpet awoke the dead.

Source: The Papal System: From Its Origin to the Present Time, by William Cathcart, D.D., published in 1872 by Menace Publishing Company, Aurora, Mo.

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