Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management

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Volume 11 Issue 1 (March 2003), Pages 1-48

Surveillance and Security: A Dodgy Relationship (pages 19-24)

Modern societies are vulnerable. We have known this long before the attacks of 11 September 2001, but they made it clear to everyone. The second lesson learned from the attacks was that it is impossible to foresee such events. Although these attacks to the real world were “low‐tech”, now there are attempts around the globe to control especially the electronic or virtual world. However, does more surveillance really lead to more security? If so, what will be the price we have to pay?

National states try to provide their citizens with a high level of security, but the effort for better security often gets mixed up with the claim for more surveillance. This is one reason why, over the past few months, governmental activities seemed to jeopardise the internationally acknowledged fundamental right of privacy. Societal security versus personal freedom is an old and well‐known area of conflict. In the light of the incidents of 11 September 2001 some old ideas for surveillance and for measures restricting privacy got on the agenda again – and new ones keep emerging.

This article will give an overview of what happened on a governmental level after 11 September 2001 in the EU, in some EU‐member states and in the USA. Apart from political actions, we already face even direct socio‐economic implications as some anonymiser services were shut down. They empowered Internet users to protect their right of privacy, and they were the first targets of investigation and suspicion. Shutting down these services reduces the potential room for users to protect their privacy by using Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs). This is an indicator for a serious societal problem: democracy has already changed.

In the second part I will analyse the relationship between surveillance and security and I will argue that, and give reasons why, these international over‐reactions will not lead to the intended effects. Rather, they will have long‐term implications for the respective societies. So in the end this has to be acknowledged in a necessary appreciation of values.

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