Even though the recent attacks may have been on the minds of Europe, they have decided that human rights are important. In the interest of national security, it seems that some counties have forgotten that. The beginning of the millenia brought many changes, and the biggest was privacy handling. According to the Center for Democracy and Technology, most European countries have moved away from mass surveillance.
While countries like the UK are using fear to justify the massive amounts of surveillance they perform, several high profile cases have effectively outlawed that practice in the EU. Of course, the other countries in the EU will continue to monitor people, but they feel it should be handled in a legal way. Their intent is to follow the rule of law, and target individuals, instead of casting a wide net that will catch everyone. Following the law is an important part of any democratic society.
It is wonderful to see most of the EU move in the direction of protecting their citizens. For far too long, citizens of free countries have willingly given up some of their freedoms to protect their countries, and those actions were tolerated by society. However, since Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the US government, people have grown impatient. At least in the EU, some of the power is being transferred back to the citizens.
Doubtless, this battle will continue for many more years, and there are good and bad points on each side. What is the proper balance between privacy and security? The answer to that can be a moving target. One thing is for sure, people want some of their rights back, and they are willing to fight to get them. If we look at the lessons of history, revolutions have started over issues like this.
Ultimately, the EU’s move towards this direction is a victory for it’s citizens. As a sovereign kingdom, it will be interesting to see how the UK will address this decision. Following this course would be a reversal in tactics, so a change would be unlikely. Still, stranger things have happened. Until that point, all citizens can do is keep fighting for their rights. There will always be threats from outside forces, but that does not mean people need to live in prisons to protect themselves. Police are not supposed to lock up the victims of a crime, they are supposed to lock up the people that commit them.