Mass Surveillance & State Emergency

Bart van der Sloot

Mass Surveillance &

The State of Emergency

Bart van der Sloot graduated from law school on the topic of the state of emergency. This has remained a field of interest ever since. He has written a standard article on the interpretation of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights on Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights (state of emergency). He has also published on the regulation of Intelligence Services and Secret Services, mass surveillance and predictive policing, sewage monitoring and fighting botnets.

Together with colleagues from Tilburg University, I've joined a consortium that investigated the possibility and legality of sewage monitoring (Micromole). I was the coordinator for the legal/ethical part.

The consortium managed to fully integrate and test a prototype consisting of three rings, a gateway and a crawler robot. The first two rings contain a pH sensor and a conductivity sensor, while the third ring contains a sampling module and an optical communications module for allowing data transmission to a gateway device installed far away. All rings are equipped, in addition, with an energy management module, additional batteries (in place of the energy harvesting module), a main controller and a radio module. The micromole system is able to periodically measure pH and conductivity of the sewage flow and to trigger the sampling module for physical evidence gathering, whenever the pH and conductivity measurements abruptly change as to match values that can be correlated with an ATS waste spill in the sewage.

Download a paper on the legal complexities here and an academic paper will be published this year (forthcoming).  

Together with colleagues, I joined a European project on the partnership between banks and law enforcement agencies in the fight against terrorism. The project analyses public-private partnerships (PPPs) in order to enhance
information sharing between competent authorities (including regulators) and financial and payment service providers at the
national and EU levels. The project will provide best-practice guidance to policy makers at the EU and national levels.

Research activities will include (i) comparative legal analyses of PPP involving eight countries in- and outside the EU in the area of AML/ as well as PPP in other areas of security law; (ii) research spanning security law, data protection law, and public international law; and (iii) socio-legal research on PPPs, including interviews with competent authorities and relevant private stakeholders; (iv) an interdisciplinary investigation into the relationship between law and technology in the context of financial analytics.

The final report is not made public.

This article contains an elaborate analysis of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights on the interpretation of Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights (state of emergency).

With the decline of traditional warfare and the rise of the fight against terrorism, the doctrine of martial law is increasingly applied by States to modern threats such as terrorism. Under this doctrine, also referred to as the state of emergency or state of necessity, fundamental rights, even those contained in a nation’s Constitution or Bill of Rights, may be derogated from in times of war. Enacted in the wake of the Second World War, in which the Nazi-regime abused this doctrine to increase and broaden its powers, Article 15 ECHR embodies strict rules and limitations for States who want to invoke the state of emergency and reserves a major role for European supervision.

Buy the article here or download draft here.

Together with colleagues from Tilburg University, I was involved in a research project on the regulation of the combat against botnets, focussing especially on the private-public partnerships in this area (between law enforcement authorities and internet intermediaries). 

Inter alia, we have produced a model Code of Conduct (CoC) on botnet mitigation, which can be used by private parties as a self-regulatory instrument and/or by parties collaborating in Public-Private Partnerships. This document comprises key components of a Code of Conduct, or statement of Best Practices, that participants can adopt in order to clarify their commitment to mitigating botnets and infected machines. The components can be reformulated, refined, and elaborated where desirable, for instance with a view to the specifics of a sector, jurisdiction, or type of organization in which the participants are active.

Download the CoC here and download a English chapter on the same topic here and in Dutch here. 

Other Scientific Contributions

Report on the state of emergency in the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Download the report here

Op-ed on the new Dutch law on intelligence agencies (in Dutch)

Download it here

Second op-ed on the new Dutch law on intelligence agencies (in Dutch)

Download it here

Article on Secret Services (only in Dutch)

Download the article here