domingo, 6 de septiembre de 2015

Europe and the #surveillance technology: Time to act !!!

The Snowden Case has occupied million of pages of the legacy press and a growing amount of bytes in the Internet. The relationship between Europe and the United States has been poisoned since the day the former NSA agent revealed the details of the US mass surveillance program. However, since then similar programs established by EU countries have been revealed (UK, Germany, France) . I would not dare to say that we are living the 1984 nightmare described by Orwell, but it is true that technology has enabled our governments to know the more intimate secrets of their citizens. 

Although the seriousness of the government surveillance cases in the US and the EU should not be lessened, our democratic system provided us with tools to fight this activity and established limits to it. A recent example of the effectiveness of these tools was the decision of the US courts to limits FBI surveillance activities. The most worrisome issue is that not only democratic governments has access to the technology. The surveillance industry did not reach the $5 billion size in 2011 by selling only to the democratic governments. Obviously, private companies and rogue governments should be also among the surveillance tools buyers

According with the revelations done by The Guardian in 2013, companies from France, Germany and UK are among the main manufacturers of the surveillance industry. Therefore, there is a European responsibility on the correct usage of the surveillance technology. Firstly, through the transparent and balanced usage within the European countries. Secondly, establishing limits to the trade of surveillance technologies based on the respect to human rights. Thirdly, promoting the lawful usage of ICTs in third countries.

The European Parliament has taken the lead of Europe on the matter. On tuesday 8th september, the MEPs will vote a resolution on Human Rights and Technology. The resolution includes a set of recommendations to the European Union to reinforce the internal lawful usage of surveillance technology and considering the promotion digital dimension of human rights in its international relationships. As other recommendations of the European Parliament, it will not have inmediate legislative value. However, let us hope the European Commision will soon follow the Parliament recommendations with a bold set of legislative proposals. This is one of the occasions when the Union should prove its value beyond the mere economic interest that has been dominant in the last years.

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