Alex Türk

Society Under Surveillance Publication date : April 7, 2011

Alex Türq is a French Senator and president of France’s National Commission on Information Technology and Freedom (CNIL).

This book aims to alert readers to the gradual but profound destruction of individual liberties in France, which began in 1978 and gathered speed in 2001. The National Commission on Information Technology and Freedom (CNIL) — the data privacy watchdog — provides a clear picture of the laws governing surveillance systems and of the impact that new technologies have on society and on citizens’ daily lives.
In this heartfelt cry for greater vigilance, the authors provide detailed descriptions of the panoply of existing techniques to increase security in public and private places, and of the range of instruments that can be used to track human activity.
Although it is necessary to fight against terrorism and crime, the growing number of surveillance systems used to spy on individuals raises serious legal issues. The authors argue that a balance must be found between security and freedom.
How much surveillance are we willing to tolerate? How much of our privacy will we sacrifice? What type of society will we leave our children?
An advocate of democratic vigilance, Alex Türq calls for a wide-ranging discussion on all these issues.

As president of CNIL, Alex Türq is well placed to provide an informed and critical appraisal of the rise of surveillance in our society — scarcely a new development but one that is expected to intensify. Is this what we want? At what price for those concerned? How much surveillance?

The large number of files kept by French government services is a matter of controversy. Demanded by some, decried by many, these files include the highly contested police intelligence database known as Edvige, as well as databases on repeat offenders and mental health. In this book the authors go beyond politically motivated polemics; they provide the necessary information to help us understand the individual liberties that are at risk.