Academic journal article Journal of Politics and Law

Digital Security Governance and Accountability in Europe: Ethical Dilemmas in Terrorism Risk Management

Academic journal article Journal of Politics and Law

Digital Security Governance and Accountability in Europe: Ethical Dilemmas in Terrorism Risk Management

Article excerpt

Abstract

Digital security governance - the use of digital personal data for threat analysis on the basis of (automated) risk profiling - enhances terrorism risk management in Europe. European security strategies emphasise that information and communication technology increasingly play a key role in preventing and anticipating threats such as terrorism and cyber-crime. It enables, for example, the sharing of personal, financial or travellers' data with third countries. This article focuses on digital security governance in the context of the Passenger Name Record (PNR), the Advance Passenger Information (API) and the Terrorist Finance Tracking System (TFTP) programmes. Particularly, it considers the ethical dilemmas of using and sharing digital personal data as well as accountability for this type of risk management. Because there are broader socio-political, legal and technological issues connected to the use of information and communication technology for digital security governance, the concept of accountability in this article is holistic.

Keywords: digital security governance, European Union, terrorism risk management, accountability, data protection, risk profiling, Passenger Name Record (PNR), Terrorist Finance Tracking System (TFTP)

1. Introduction

European states strongly rely on innovative technological tools to manage the risk of terrorism. New information and communication technology, facilitates digital security governance, which entails the collection, processing, storage and sharing of digital personal data for risk profiling (Valverde & Mopas, 2004; Valverde, 2003). (Note 1) On the basis of this data, people are categorised according to a (pre-defined) level of potential threat. Across the world, no-fly lists, crime or serious nuisance prediction systems, biometric immigration databases as well as youth intervention databases emerge. Personal information about data subjects is collected, mined, stored, and transferred by public and private authorities. Hence, digital personal information such as financial or traveller data has become a valuable asset for risk management in the field of counter-terrorism. The European Internal Security Strategy emphasises that information and communication technology is an important tool in preventing or anticipating threats such as terrorism, cyber-crime, and serious or organised crime. One of the reasons for this is that those who pose a security risk (e.g., criminals, terrorists) are believed to adapt quickly to changes in technology. The strategy furthermore stresses that security governance is based on shared common values including the rule of law and Human Rights Council of the European Union (CEU) (2010a/b/2008/ 2007a/ 2005/2003). States assume that terrorism can be more effectively prevented and countered with innovative information and communication technology. One of the underlying reasons is the fact that digital personal information has become more widely available and shared. Cyberspace, which includes computers, mobile and landline networks linking people throughout the world to communicate and exchange information, facilitates the collection of digital data for security governance (Note 2) in an unprecedented manner. Additionally, the costs involved in using these technological tools are relatively low. Hence, digital personal information is considered to be a valuable and economical asset of terrorism risk management. It has led to the creation of large-scale European Union (EU) databases and improved information-sharing between Member States and third countries. In fact, several recent security-related measures such as the Passenger Name Record (PNR), the Advance Passenger Information (API) and the Terrorist Finance Tracking System (TFTP) programmes indicate that digital personal data have become an important part of EU security policies.

Simultaneously, new questions arise about ethical dilemmas in relation to security governance and especially regarding digital personal data and information-sharing. …

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