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The fifth freedom and the burden of executive power

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)

Published
Publication date6/01/2017
Host publicationTechnoscience and citizenship: ethics and governance in the digital society
EditorsAna Delgado
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Pages83-98
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783319324142
ISBN (Print)9783319324128
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameThe International Library of Ethics, Law and Technology
PublisherSpringer
Volume17
ISSN (Print)1875-0044

Abstract

Advanced ICTs and biometry in mass-surveillance and border control is integral to the securitization agenda which emerged in the early 2000s. This agenda has been particularly instrumental in cultivating migration anxieties and framing the problem of threat as an imperative to identify those who are dangerous to public safety. As well founded as that may be, this framing masks the pivotal role ICTs have in the supervision and surveillance of industries and markets. ICTs are essential to achieve all four freedoms of movement in European market integration, i.e., of goods, services, capital and persons. They are essential to EU-US trade and investment relations which are increasingly underpinned by cross-border data flows. Drawing on mobilities research, this chapter explores how the mobilities of materials, commodities, markets and labour are simultaneously constrained and facilitated in reference to the obligation in Europe to protect yet another freedom of movement, that of data. Against efforts to better protect personal data in these flows, narratives of threat and emergency call for immediate action, whereby any data that can be intercepted can also be gathered for investigative purposes on the basis of exceptional circumstance. The securitization agenda finds its practical utility here in the hands of executive powers, avoiding the legislature and the judiciary. There is no evidence that authorities catch terrorists and criminals because of advanced ICTs in data intercept. The practical utility lies in the ability to target and investigate any individual, any political opposition or exercise in citizen rights to challenge the socio-economic and moral order. Under the circumstances, the only immediate defence available is self-censorship. Publics have no meaningful way of objecting to states of exception in which illiberal practices are legitimized, and neither does the legislature and the judiciary unless the checks on executive powers are adequately reined in.