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Increasing Resilience in Surveillance Societies

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Zeroing in on surveillance in Europe

An in-depth study of evolving surveillance practices in Europe is mapping the effects on society and arming policymakers with valuable insights on the topic.

Digital Economy

With a marked increase in security issues over the last decade, private and public organisations are turning to increased surveillance as a means to enhance safety. From online monitoring and phone tapping to video cameras and satellite tracking, surveillance is pervading many different angles of society. Against this backdrop, the EU-funded IRISS (Increasing resilience in surveillance societies) project examined how surveillance is changing our world. Taking a critical view of surveillance, the project team studied its spread, uses, costs and effects. It looked at how citizens are being affected by all the surveillance and reacting to what may be irreversible changes in our lifestyles. Importantly, IRISS investigated how citizens can access personal data stored by various institutions and agencies. Recently, whistle-blower Edward Snowden ignited the debate on surveillance practices, offering the project team a crucial window for examining society's reactions to mass surveillance. Different authorities and policymakers have already shown keen interest in the project's work, which was released in a comprehensive book titled 'Surveillance in Europe'. The book discusses surveillance technologies and their importance in combating crime and terrorism, as well as impacts of surveillance on civil liberties and the fallout of the Snowden revelations. It also highlights recommendations and findings related to surveillance in Europe. In parallel, the project team published a 415-page report titled 'Surveillance, fighting crime and violence' that can be downloaded from the project's website. The publication traces the co-evolution of surveillance technologies and practices to an extent not seen before. IRISS touched on how the security industry dominates political security discourse and the ubiquity of surveillance technologies in today's society. The project team also unveiled its 'Handbook on surveillance, democracy and resilience', which also serves as an online decision-making tool for policymakers. It outlined different measures to increase resilience (the ability of people and organisations to adapt to and/or resist surveillance) in societies. Overall, the project contributed significantly to understanding the fast-moving world of surveillance and what it means to Europeans and their governments. With surveillance spreading practically everywhere, the project team's contribution to understanding this controversial topic cannot be underestimated.


Surveillance, safety, crime, terrorism, civil liberties

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