This paper approaches from a human rights perspective the issue of state surveillance mechanisms hastened by the terrorist attacks after the year 2000. The primary focus consists in the new European legislative initiative, Directive 2006/24/EC on the retention of data generated or processed by the public communications networks, aiming at increasing national security and fighting ‘serious crimes’ by enforcing traffic data storage for all EU citizens. After discussing the general context of the War on Terror with its logic of preemptive actions, and the brief history of the Directive, this paper critically analyses its legislative content, underlining the dangers posed to private life. In doing so, it takes into account different arguments explained by relevant studies. Special attention is given to the principles of necessity and proportionality and to the extent the Directive respects them, in motivating its interference with the citizen’s right to privacy. Finally, a look into the future of the state surveillance forms in the context of rapidly expanding Information and Communication Technologies can address the essential question: towards what end? In other terms, are these kinds of initiatives reflecting an increased state surveillance that apparently brings us closer to the ‘panopticon’ society, another “nail in democracy’s coffin”?
This article by Mariuca Morariu was originally published in Amsterdam Social Science Volume 1 Issue 3 (2009). Click here for the complete article.
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