Paper ISBN: 978-92-9491-821-5
PDF ISBN: 978-92-9491-820-8
Protecting the public from genuine threats to security and safeguarding fundamental rights involves a delicate balance, and has become a particularly complex challenge in recent years. Terror attacks worldwide have triggered broad measures allowing intelligence services to cast ever-wider nets in the hope of preventing further violence. At the same time, the digital age has produced technological innovations facilitating large-scale communications data monitoring – which could easily be abused.
These developments affect a variety of fundamental rights protected by European Union (EU) law, particularly the rights to privacy and data protection – enshrined in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the EU treaties and EU directives. The Snowden revelations, which uncovered extensive and indiscriminate surveillance efforts worldwide, highlight that violations of these rights are not merely a theoretical concern. The sheer magnitude of the uncovered intelligence
activity has prompted disquiet and underscored the importance of maintaining effective mechanisms to help prevent fundamental rights encroachments.
The European Parliament responded with a resolution which, among others, calls on the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights to research thoroughly fundamental rights protection in the context of surveillance, in particular in terms of available remedies. This report – which constitutes the first part of FRA’s response to this request – aims to support the adoption and meaningful implementation of oversight mechanisms in the EU and its Member States. It does so by analysing the legal frameworks on surveillance in place in EU Member States, focusing on so-called ‘mass surveillance’, which carries a particularly high potential for abuse. The report does not assess the implementation of the respective laws; instead, it maps the relevant legal frameworks in the Member States.
It also details oversight mechanisms introduced across the EU, outlines the work of entities tasked with overseeing surveillance measures, and presents the various remedies available to individuals seeking to challenge such intelligence activities. The research findings presented in this report demonstrate the complex considerations involved in safeguarding fundamental rights in the context of surveillance. Finding a balance between national security protection and respect for fundamental rights is a challenge that requires thorough and candid discussion. This report contributes to that discussion.