Towards a Surveillant Society: The Rise of Surveillance Systems in Europe

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A most timely publication in view of current concerns about snooping. Thomas Mathiesen describes how the major databases of Europe have become interlinked and accessible to diverse organizations and third States; meaning that, largely unchallenged, a 'Surveillance Monster' now threatens rights, freedoms, democracy and the Rule of Law. As information is logged on citizens' every move, data flows across borders via systems soon to be under central, global or even non-State control. Secret plans happen behind closed doors and 'systems func tionaries' become defensive of their own role. Goals expand and entire processes are shrouded in mystery. Alongside the integration of automated systems sits a weakening of State ties as the Prum Treaty and Schengen Convention lead to systems lacking transparency, restraint or Parliamentary scrutiny. As Mathiesen explains, the intention may have been fighting terrorism or organized crime, but the means have become disproportionate, unaccountable, over-expensive and lacking in results which ordinary vigilance and sound intelligence in communities should provide.