Surveillance, privacy and security: Europe’s confused response to Snowden

Surveillance, privacy and security: Europe’s confused response to Snowden

Brussels: The reaction to the recent Paris attacks has shown that digital communications are at the centre of debates about security and human rights. There have been calls to give European governments greater surveillance powers against terrorism, but any policy decisions must also address unresolved questions about the legitimacy and democratic oversight of large-scale data collection. The EU’s lack of clarity and consensus on the subject of surveillance has been displayed in its reaction to Edward Snowden’s revelations about data-gathering by the US and other states, a new ECFR policy memo argues.

Surveillance, privacy and security: Europe’s confused response to Snowden by ECFR Senior Policy Fellow Anthony Dworkin, explores how European countries and groups reacted to public disclosures about mass surveillance since 2013.

He notes in particular that:

Despite the attention for Snowden’s revelations, Europe has failed to engage with the most important issues raised

EU institutions and member states have focused on commercial regulation, spying against public officials, and keeping data within Europe.

These measures would do little to curtail US surveillance, and do not take account of mass surveillance carried out by European security services.

What is needed is a new framework for surveillance that addresses the global nature of digital communications and the lack of adequate rules and oversight governing tracking of domestic and foreign citizens.

Anthony Dworkin writes: “The issues surrounding digital communications are vitally important for Europe’s security, its economic future, its values, and the rights of its citizens. At a time when Europe is again focused on the threat of terrorism, we cannot afford to neglect the steps that are needed to put surveillance by our own governments and our allies onto a legitimate and democratic basis\”.

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