CCCS Seminar: Assessing Mass Surveillance: Is There a Fair "Balance"?

Thursday, 18 September, 2014 - 17:30 to 19:30

The revelations by former NSA and CIA contractor Edward Snowden have brought into public attention the methods and scope of electronic mass surveillance by the United States and other states. While some technology experts and even lawyers have drawn the conclusion that the right to privacy is "dead", or that there cannot be any legitimate expectation of e-privacy anymore, others insist on upholding the status of the right to privacy as a universal human right, possibly with an inviolable core or at least subject to an analytically rigorous test of permissible limitations. The UN General Assembly has adopted a resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age and the matter is being further debated in UN circles, including with a view towards new normative instruments or mechanisms. In his lecture, Professor Martin Scheinin will look into these developments and present the ongoing work of his collaborative research project SURVEILLE (Surveillance: Ethical Issues, Legal Limitations, and Efficiency ), funded by the Eurupean Union. One central dimension of SURVEILLE relates to a multidisciplinary methodology of "scoring" surveillance technologies on the basis of their efficiency in delivering better security, the degree of privacy intrusion caused, and ethical issues that arise.

Martin Scheinin is Professor of International Law and Human Rights at the European University Institute, Florence. He served as the first United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism (2005–2011) and was prior to that a member of the Human Rights Committee (1997–2004). Currently he heads a collaborative multidisciplinary research project on the ethics, legal limitations and efficiency of surveillance technologies, called SURVEILLE and funded by the EU Commission (2012–2015).


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Room920, Level 9, Melbourne Law School


185 Pelham Street Carlton VIC 3053


Online registration required