Surveillance of social media not way to fight terrorism – Minister

Protection of people’s privacy is core tenet of EU and must be upheld, says Dara Murphy

Blanket surveillance of social media is not the solution to combating terrorism and the rights of the individual to privacy must be protected, Data Protection Minister Dara Murphy said on Monday.

Mr Murphy said Ireland and the European Union must protect the privacy rights of individuals on social media. "Freedom of expression, freedom of movement, and the protection of privacy are core tenets of the European Union, which must be upheld."

He said that it was important to encourage the adoption of a transparent and measured response to help Europe’s police agencies counter terrorist extremists, following recent events in Paris.

Speaking at a briefing to business leaders in Cork on Data Protection: Policies and IT Security, Mr Murphy said events in Paris and Belgium had given rise to some concerns about some counter-terrorism investigative measures being proposed.


Data privacy campaigners are concerned about comments by some European intelligence agencies about the need for counter-terrorism measures covering personal online data storage, social media and legal powers to break encrypted communications

"The European Parliament is currently considering counter-terrorism measures, including improved monitoring and sharing by law enforcement agencies of air passenger data," said Mr Murphy

“ Also on the table for discussion is better cooperation between police and social media companies, and the retention of personal data communications, such as mobile phone records and emails.”

“Careful consideration needs to be given in Ireland and the within the EU on how we improve enforcement measures in the ‘dark web’ to protect citizens from cyber-crime and threats from extremists, while safeguarding individuals’ data privacy,” he said.

There was also a balance to be struck when ensuring securing digital communications for Irish and European businesses, said Mr Murphy who was made Minister for State with responsibility for European Affairs and Data Protection last July.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times