Surveillance in the European Union

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© Cambridge University Press 2017. This chapter provides an overview of the major regulations and case-law governing surveillance in the European Union (EU) over the last several years. It examines the EU instruments that collect and process data for security purposes, and it identifies the new legal basis included in the Treaty of Lisbon with regard to security measures. As for EU bodies involved in surveillance activities, this chapter focuses on the role of Europol as the main EU agency that provides support to the member states in the prevention, combat, and prosecution of crimes. In addition, it examines the tasks of the EU centre “IntCen,” in an attempt to determine whether the EU has legal authority to regulate surveillance practices conducted by intelligence services in the member states. Introduction The number of victims of terrorist attacks in Europe has tremendously increased in the last few years. Whereas in 2014 only four people were killed in terror-related assaults, the number grew to 267 in 2015, and there have been other 181 killings in terror attacks until April 2017. To the same extent, surveillance measures consisting of the collection and processing of personal data have lately expanded in Europe. Yet, the use of surveillance measures by police and intelligence forces is not a new practice. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and especially after the attacks that occurred in Madrid in 2004, the EU adopted numerous surveillance laws and instruments. These regulate such aspects as Internet surveillance, wiretapping or telephone surveillance, camera or video surveillance, and biometric surveillance, and they all have in common that they consist of the collection and processing of huge volumes of personal data. In 2013, the former analyst of the National Security Agency (NSA) Edward Snowden, disclosed more than 1.7 million documents on global surveillance programmes and other controversial activities conducted by the NSA. These revelations sparked a heated debate about the NSA as well as about the activity of EU law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Although the NSA is located on US soil, the United States is not the only country that carries out massive surveillance activities. Most countries in the world are engaging in similar surveillance practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Surveillance Law
Place of PublicationCambridge (GB)
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)978-1-10-713794-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


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