US and EU approaches to Civil Liberties: Common values, differing approaches

07-07-2010

The European Union and the United States are united in the common purpose of identifying, containing and rolling back the threat from international terrorism. Both the US and EU value the rights of the individual and the right to be free from the threat of terrorism; and they both seek agreements that make their common efforts stronger. A convergence of policy can be observed in traditional security areas, particularly in counterterrorism operations at the operational and strategic levels. There has been a divergence of policies where data‐sharing has been concerned, despite the trend for creating, maintaining and analysing large databases that is common to both the EU and US. The key challenge for European and American policymakers is to overcome the concerns about how data is retained, what it is used for, how it might be further shared, and accommodating their different visions of the rights of the individual. There has been a revolution in the amount of personal information that is being collected, retained and analysed, but there has not been the same level of debate about the relationship between the state and the citizen, nor in the appropriate balance between security and privacy, which differs in the EU and US.

The European Union and the United States are united in the common purpose of identifying, containing and rolling back the threat from international terrorism. Both the US and EU value the rights of the individual and the right to be free from the threat of terrorism; and they both seek agreements that make their common efforts stronger. A convergence of policy can be observed in traditional security areas, particularly in counterterrorism operations at the operational and strategic levels. There has been a divergence of policies where data‐sharing has been concerned, despite the trend for creating, maintaining and analysing large databases that is common to both the EU and US. The key challenge for European and American policymakers is to overcome the concerns about how data is retained, what it is used for, how it might be further shared, and accommodating their different visions of the rights of the individual. There has been a revolution in the amount of personal information that is being collected, retained and analysed, but there has not been the same level of debate about the relationship between the state and the citizen, nor in the appropriate balance between security and privacy, which differs in the EU and US.