The Court of Justice of the EU’s recent decision invalidating Safe Harbor presents a real challenge as to how we should view ‘lawful’ governmental surveillance against a backdrop of supporting the fundamental right to privacy. Whilst it is broadly agreed that we need to strike a balance, we don’t seem to be able to agree on where exactly the balance should lie. Adding to the complexity, our sense of balance is a moving target, influenced by subjective views as to how we perceive dangers to society, and how far we should go to restrict freedoms in order to protect against those dangers.
The issue came into sharp focus for Americans following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York in 2001. Sadly, the attacks in Paris in January 2015 and on 13th November 2015 have Europeans revisiting the same issues. Some well-informed commentators in the US have expressed frustration and annoyance at the Schrems decision on the basis that the European Court failed to acknowledge the checks and balances in place within the US PRISM system.
This article was first published by PDP Journals and should not be re-published on any other website or publication.