The Discreet Charm of Passenger Data: Big Data Surveillance Coming Home

Several governments see in the mass-surveillance of passenger data the key tool of counter-terrorism. These data are generally known as PNR – Passenger Name Records, and their potential for law enforcement has been discussed at least since the 1990s. Now European Union (EU) debates about the creation of a European PNR scheme seem settled once… Read more »

The Threat from ISIS is not Military

For more than a decade, alarmists have essentially argued that, because the 9/11 attackers proved to be good with box-cutters, they would soon be able to fabricate nuclear weapons. And now, after the dramatic and horrible Paris terror attacks, a similar process of alarmed exaggeration seems to be happening with ISIS. In a reactive pose… Read more »

A Close Look at Border Security in the Mediterranean

The EU’s response to the increased flow of refugees crossing the Mediterranean has been to boost border security by means of Operation Triton, which is the responsibility of Frontex, the EU border agency. There is little one can do, however, to impose effective border controls at sea. Operation Triton does not have a search-and-rescue mandate,… Read more »

Boko Haram does not have the Fire Power of the Islamic State

Boko Haram’s influence and cruelty is still increasing. On the 3rd of January the Islamist group first attacked Baga, situated at the riverside of Lake Chad in the north of the State of Borno. They then came back several days later and demolished the entire city and its surrounding villages. The attack reportedly caused more… Read more »

Surveillance Under Control?1

We cannot make do without surveillance, and even political actors must expect to be kept under observation if they espouse extreme positions. But we must keep surveillance under control. This article tells the story of the information about me that had lain in the files of the police security service and to which I gained… Read more »

Refugees are a Shared Responsibility

A record number of refugees have arrived by boat in southern Europe this summer. Norway should voice its support for a common European solution to the issue of boat migrants crossing the Mediterranean. Last year this would have been front-page news, but now each new arrival – or each refugee boat that is lost at… Read more »

Edward Snowden: the last Big Brother?

Following last year’s revelations, Edward Snowden seems to be trapped in a role ironically reminiscent of another famous character – George Orwell’s Big Brother. You are being watched. This classical surveillance slogan hides a subtler, and more insidious message: you must believe you are always being watched, and you probably are, but you will never… Read more »

The Syrian Refugee Crisis and Conflict Spillover

The Syrian refugee crisis has been heartbreaking to watch. According to the United Nations, over 2.4 million people have fled the country, and many more have been displaced internally. This human tragedy has shocked the world’s conscience and has led for appeals for humanitarian relief. However, does the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees… Read more »