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Surveillance and Democratic Supervision

Reflections on Tendencies in Developments in

Europe and the United States

Ching-Yi Liu

Graduate Institute of National Development

College of Social Science, National Taiwan University

No.1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd., Taipei 10617, Taiwan



Pursuing an inquiry into how a democratic society is supposed to

monitor government surveillance, this essay examines the attitude of

the European Court of Human Rights




towards litigation de-

rived from laws on surveillance in European nations, and juxtaposes

the findings with relevant disputes in the United States; the purpose of

this inquiry is to explore how these traditions might shed light on the

situation in Taiwan and how the landscape of democratic supervision

is to be shaped under modern surveillance law. This essay argues that

the European judiciary is well-experienced in the realm of informa-

tional privacy, and that reforms to surveillance law in European na-

tions is generally determined by ECtHR case-law. Of particular sig-

nificance is the emphasis that the ECtHR lays on the interpretation

and analysis of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human





, specifically the focus on the notion “in accordance

with the law” rather than “necessary in a democratic society.” Such

tendency might lead to the fact that the State Parties to the ECHR are

merely willing to introduce domestic legislation. Accordingly, there is

still plenty of room for improvement in the protective framework of

informational privacy essential for a democratic society.

Key Words



urveillance, informational privacy, European Court of

Human Rights, metadata, big data