Press releases

Is Big Brother watching you – and who is watching Big Brother?


10 December 2008

Whether such fears are justified or not, one thing is certain: our movements and behaviour are being tracked and recorded on an unprecedented scale. Vast amounts of information are being collected, stored and shared - not only by governments but also by the private sector - and that data is being used in numerous different ways.

This is prompting an intensifying debate about whether individual Member States and the Union as a whole are striking the right balance between protecting citizens and respecting their civil liberties, between using such data for the benefit of individuals and society and respecting people’s fundamental right to privacy.

This issue of the European Policy Centre’s policy journal Challenge Europe aims to contribute to this debate with articles by many leading experts in this field. It starts by considering how attitudes towards privacy, the balance between security and civil liberties, and the concept of ‘citizenship’ are changing. It then analyses the factors driving the steady increase in data collection, storing and sharing, and examines the implications of all this for citizens, businesses and governments. Finally, it assesses what impact this is having now, and might have in future, on national and EU policy-making.

Two striking conclusions emerge from this collection of essays. Firstly, this debate is much more complex than it may at first appear, given the need to weigh up the benefits of these developments for society against the dangers they pose to our fundamental values and rights. Secondly, there is a need for much wider public debate on this issue, given that many people are unaware of some of the uses all information is being put to. This publication aims to contribute to that debate.

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