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Surveillance and protection of freedoms – what is the right dose?

“The issue of mass surveillance of citizens has received much attention, especially after the revelations made by Edward Snowden, with a growing tension between the concern for safety and the protection of freedoms,” said PACE President Anne Brasseur, at the opening of a plenary debate at the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg today.

“We should clearly refute any messages linking terrorism with migration,” she warned, evoking the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and in Egypt, and pointing out the dangers of populism feeding on hatred, fear and intolerance.

Referring to PACE Resolution 2045 adopted in April 2015, she also recalled that the Assembly was seeing mass surveillance as “a threat to human rights”.

Launching the debate, Ms Brasseur raised a series of questions, in particular: what is the impact of surveillance on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the work of journalists, political opposition and civil society? How much freedom are we prepared to give up in order to defend our societies from terrorism? How much and what kind of surveillance is needed to provide democratic security?

The Strasbourg World Forum for Democracy is an annual gathering of leaders, opinion-makers, civil society activists, representatives of business, academia, media and professional groups to debate key challenges for democracies worldwide.