For many Europeans, a COVID-19 lockdown will have been their first encounter with major state intrusion in their own lives. For all those folks who’ve lived in areas beset by terrorism, but the constraints of lockdown feel all too familiar. From the 1980s, my home area of the Basque Country in Spain has been subject to continuous attacks by ETA. My next lockdown was in Brussels, in which I had been residing when in the time of this Bataclan strikes in 2015, and the third was in Barcelona in August 2017 where I had been working meters from Las Ramblas in which the terrorist assault happened.
Whether motivated by a health or safety catastrophe, the adoption of unique condition forces makes me stress that we’re entering a new age where our liberties are being whittled out under the guise of combating another undetectable enemy. In only weeks, we’ve seen the suggested use of intrusive surveillance technology to monitor”patients” Telecoms giants also have been requested to hand over metadata to authorities as well as the EU Commission, whilst contact tracing programs are advocated from the Commission’s street map to lifting COVID19 containment steps.
UN Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of individual rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism,” Professor Fionnuala Ni Aolain, has sounded the alarm: “The safety industry and private tech companies are providing solutions to nations and telling them how this arsenal of counter-terrorism power and data assemble in the wake of this 9/11 could be put on the health world. This is supposed to be of genuine concern for each of us”
On observers of European security issues, this may feel unsurprising. The European”War on Terror” has, because 2015, been characterized by unprecedented country controls, surveillance growth, and overreach. Troubling measures adopted in Europe now are made on legislation such as the German arsenal of invasive surveillance legislation, the dragnet legislation in the Netherlands, and also the UK Investigatory Powers Act.
Why are they applicable today, and just how can they affect us all?
These forces improve government intrusion into our personal lives allowing intelligence agencies to spy on countless ordinary citizens for surgeries that don’t have anything to do with terrorism. They treat the Web as an extra-legal area and permit the tapping of their electronic communications throughout the hacking of individuals´ computers and phones.
There are several symptoms of the brakes being implemented. In 2018, the European Union Court of Justice (CJEU) dominated that UK laws allowing bulk digital surveillance are unlawful and violate rights to privacy and liberty of expression. In January 2020, the advocate-general of this European tribunal educated that terrorism surveillance legislation in the united kingdom, Belgium, and France comply with EU privacy legislation.
In light of rapid technological change along with biometric programs developed to restrict the spread of coronavirus, we have to stay attentive to intrusive and omnipresent technological surveillance.
States and technology giants have to be educated that the Common EU Toolbox to the Member States stipulates that cellular contact tracing applications should be voluntary, second use anonymized information, and thirdly, be trashed once they’re no longer desired.
To make sure that new technologies completely comply with EU privacy and data protection across Europe, we have to continue to analyze controversial federal laws carefully. The policy has to be directed by both public health and privacy rights to ascertain what sort of information is needed, how it’s used, and that must have access to it. Surveillance and emergency abilities will need to be restricted, publicly scrutinized, and guarded against corporate and state abuse. In the long term, we have to safeguard against”temporary” mass surveillance steps creeping into regular law, by adding sunset provisions, for example, that would necessitate subsequent statute.
More commonly, we must interrupt the (often unquestioned) story that authorities need intrusive powers to maintain societies secure, while concurrently promoting public comprehension of the right for privacy. Digital monitoring and mass surveillance aren’t panaceas; their effectiveness hasn’t yet been examined, nor has their effect been properly scrutinized by supervision bodies and by general public health, information, and right-to-privacy specialists.
When lockdowns in Europe are all over, we have to guarantee that health crisis forces work in the general public interest and for the public — and intrusive country and corporate surveillance isn’t our brand new ordinary.