Security and Privacy in the EU: what’s going on since 9/11 (and Snowden’s revelations)?

Docente: Maria Grazia Porcedda – European University Institute, Department of Law

Lingua: Inglese, Italiano

Availability to deliver class/classes: March 2015

Imagine that you are going on a school trip. You’ll be visiting London with your classmates, an exciting city that you’ve never seen before. As the date of the journey approaches, you start discussing with your friends and classmates via e-mail and on Facebook things such as who will share the rooms, and what clothes to bring. You start looking for apps containing maps, guides, and the coolest things to do in London. The day has come and you all meet at the airport. All of you check-in, go through security checks, and then go past passport control (because the United Kingdom is outside the Schengen Area). Eventually everyone gets on board: ready to start!

What does this have to do with privacy and security? For a start, you think of your school trip to London as a personal event, something that only you and your classmates know about. But actually, many more will know: Facebook, the email providers, the travel agency that dealt with the bookings, the airline company, the computer reservation system used by the airline company, the border police of Italy and the United Kingdom, etc. etc.
Moreover, travelling by airplanes must be protected from terrorist strikes, which is an important security check. In order to protect airplanes, you have to make sure that the people who board them are not carrying guns or dangerous materials, or that they are not criminals themselves. And to ascertain this, the authorities try collecting as much information as possible about the people who will be travelling, including you and your classmates, from all sources available (including the ones above).

Did you ever think of your trip in these terms? This is only one of the many circumstances in which privacy and security clash. Privacy and security are complex terms, they have different legal status, and bear different political meanings. During our discussion we will talk about their meaning for us, the law and politics, and explore what the European Union is doing about them. To do so, we will use different examples and some videos.