European Commission for Democracy Through Law

April, 7 2015 - Update of the 2007 Report on the Democratic Oversight of the Security Services and Report on the Democrative Oversight of Signals Intelligence Agencies.

59. Bearing these points in mind, it is undoubtedly appropriate to have a proper discussion regarding oversight of strategic surveillance, and such discussions have been occurring in a number of states. The issue became particularly topical as a result of detailed allegations made by a former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, Edward Snowden, in June 2013. Fears were expressed as a result of these allegations that the activities of the NSA in particular, but also the equivalent signals intelligence agencies in other states, including several Council of Europe states, involved “mass surveillance”. The concern caused by these allegations about NSA capabilities and practices was exacerbated by the fact that US companies dominate the internet, and the much internet traffic is routed through the internet “backbone” in the US. It led inter alia to the UN General Assembly adopting a resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age[15] an inquiry in the Liberty committee of the European Parliament,[16] and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,[17] to proposals made by service providers[18] and an NGO coalition19 for global regulatory principles.


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