State surveillance measures and their impact on constitutional freedoms have long been the subject of legal and political discourse. Building on prior, mainly theoretical, considerations about the need for realizing an “overall accounting” of surveillance, we began developing a broader conceptual approach for establishing a periodic surveillance barometer. Designed as a theoretically and empirically grounded instrument, it measures and assesses the actual status of surveillance and related burdens from a citizenry’s perspective.
This pioneering project aims at identifying and quantifying the cumulative impact on privacy of various surveillance activities undertaken by security and prosecution agencies. The results are meant to provide scientifically-based evidence for academic discussions and to benefit legislatures and the judiciary. The barometer has been conceptualized as a periodic instrument. Only long-term monitoring facilitates early detection and retrospective analyses of changes in application or practice.
Despite global attention and concern with state surveillance, such a transparency instrument has not yet been developed, neither in Europe nor worldwide. Our barometer will become operational, at first on a limited basis, in 2022. The concept envisages developing an additional project for comparative surveillance monitoring in other E.U. member states.
With its focus on the use of the various surveillance powers and their impact the project touches upon the core of the Department's third research area which addresses contemporary challenges for the effective protection of fundamental rights.