Security clouds: towards an ethical governance of surveillance in Europe

Monica den Boer*, Jelle van Buuren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Within the European Union (EU), several instruments have been created at local, national and international level to monitor the movements of persons, goods and systems. The political justification of this vast expansion of surveillance instruments is based on the supposed need for security actors to predict and prevent security voids. In this article, we argue that the emergence of security clouds - the spray of data on individuals that floats between accumulated data-systems and networked surveillance instruments - present a considerable challenge to the governance of surveillance. The formally pronounced objects of combating crime and terror can be conceptualized as emerging forms of governance through surveillance and therefore influence societies deeper than merely in the field of security governance. Data which are fused in the security clouds can be stored for different purposes by different actors, acquire new functionalities and technical applications. The responsibility for surveillance technologies reaches beyond the scope of traditional scrutiny mechanisms, including parliaments, judicial authorities and civilian oversight bodies. The European, national, vertical and horizontal legal arrangements for transparency, access and data protection lack coherence and consistency. This article advocates a professional security ethic on top of a consolidated legal framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-103
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Cultural Economy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • ethics
  • European Union
  • intelligence
  • security
  • surveillance


Dive into the research topics of 'Security clouds: towards an ethical governance of surveillance in Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this