The monthly law journal which covers all aspects of data protection and data privacy: data transfer & outsourcing, marketing and e-marketing, freedom of information (FOI), employee monitoring, privacy compliance, online data acquisition and consent, personal data, website compliance and emerging technologies such as behavioural advertising, cloud computing and smart grids. / read more
Public atrocities always attract some kind of political reaction. Generally, the more brutal the atrocity, the harsher the reaction. It is understandable from the perspective of political responsibility. So when defenceless people are mercilessly attacked by gunmen as punishment for their satirical views, a very visible reaction is to be expected. However, political reactions to grave situations need not only visibility, but measured thinking and careful decision-making. The reaction to a violent and criminal act can often have more far-reaching implications than the act itself, leading to an escalation of violence. At the same time, doing nothing to protect citizens from harm is not a responsible option. As with many political decisions, securing public safety is a balancing exercise of robustness and restraint.
The most visible response to the current public security threat faced by the West has been to increase the level of vigilance. Political decision makers have been quick to justify all sorts of technological methods to capture, retain and penetrate communications and the data around them, as a way of spotting clues that will help prevent future violent acts and atrocities. This amounts to a sacrifice of rights and freedoms which, according to the political forces in charge, is necessary given the circumstances. The question is: to what extent does security trump freedom? Or more specifically, what degree of privacy intrusion by the state is justifiable in order to keep assassins at bay? As difficult as it may be, getting the answer to this question right, is essential for the future of democracy, which somewhat ironically, is also what we are trying to save in the first place.
Eduardo Ustaran Partner
Hogan Lovells, London