State of Concept


09 May—6:30 pm


The Data Frontier. Investigating Mass Surveillance in the EU



Apostolis Fotiadis, Luděk Stavinoha & Giacomo Zandonini. Moderated by Stefanos Levidis and iLiana Fokianaki.


State of Concept Athens


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State of Concept, in the framework of the program Truth will not take Care of itself, a series of investigations, facts and oral histories invites you to the talk The data frontier. Investigating mass surveillance in the EU with Apostolis Fotiadis, Luděk Stavinoha & Giacomo Zandonini.  The talk will be moderated by Stefanos Levidis and iLiana Fokianaki. 

In recent years we have been hearing about personal data and the need to protect them. In Greece, we have heard about several data leaks and the Greek Data Protection Authority has launched a number of inquiries into serious data breaches in the private as well as the public sector.. Personal data is all the information that refers to a person and can directly or indirectly lead to his/her identification. For example, our name, our address, our mobile phone number, the school we go to, are just a few indicative examples of what is considered personal data in our daily lives. Sometimes personal data relates to particularly sensitive aspects of our private lives, such as our religion or political beliefs. The European Union has developed a robust legal framework to protect the personal data of both European citizens and non-citizens. But how are the policies affecting the future of this protection framework shaped within the EU?

For the past three years, a small team of two journalists and a researcher  have worked across borders to unveil European Union programmes and decisions aimed at weakening some of the most advanced data protection norms globally. At the core of this reporting was a concerted effort, led by European Commission officials and powerful security agencies, to bypass privacy and human rights safeguards in the name of fighting against terrorism and the smuggling of migrants. Obtaining access to hundreds of pages of confidential documents and leaked information, and accessing sources close to political decision-making, their reports have untangled pressing issues regarding the future of privacy, mass surveillance, the criminalisation of migration, and threats to fundamental rights of both citizens and non-citizens in Europe. Their investigations dug into an opaque programme developed by Frontex, the EU border control agency, to amass intrusive personal data of people fleeing wars and poverty. They explored Europol’s immense data archive, where personal details of activists and lawyers were unlawfully stored for years, even when unrelated to any criminal activity. With support from the European Journalism Center, their investigations have appeared in major media outlets across the continent, and have informed the work of privacy and human rights NGOs, activists, and members of parliament. 

Τhe talk is available on our YouTube channel: click here 

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Apostolis Fotiadis is a researcher/journalist covering EU policy issues including developments in population movement, security and defence, privacy and big data policies. In the past he has co-operated with many international media outlets and organisations. He has authored numerous reports, published two books on EU migration and border control policies and has been a member of numerous cross border investigations. He currently co-operates with investigative outlet Solomon and works as a freelance researcher.


Luděk Stavinoha is Associate Professor in Media and Global Development at the University of East Anglia where his research focuses on the EU border regime and migrant solidarity. With expertise in Freedom of Information mechanisms and transparency, he has collaborated on a series of journalistic investigations, most notably the role of EU agencies Frontex and Europol in the expanding surveillance of migrant populations. Alongside numerous academic publications, his work has appeared in The Guardian, Der Spiegel, and Balkan Insight.

Giacomo Zandonini is a Rome-based freelance journalist and researcher, and a founder of Fada Collective, an Italian non profit newsroom that produces multimedia cross-border reporting. His work focuses on Eu surveillance and migration policies between the Mediterranean region, the Sahel and West Africa. He has been a part of several investigations and research projects, whose results were published in a variety of outlets and platforms across Europe and Africa. 

Stefanos Levidis is a researcher and visual practitioner. At Forensic Architecture he oversees the agency’s work on borders and migration. His PhD dissertation, submitted in 2020 at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, and titled ‘Border Natures’, interrogates the entanglement of border defence strategies with the natural environment at the external borders of the EU, with a focus on the Greek case. His own spatial and visual practice has been presented and published internationally, and his investigative research has been submitted to courts in support of human rights cases. 


Investigations /  Publications:




EN: Frontex Tripped in its Plan for “Intrusive” Surveillance of Migrants…/eus-frontex-tripped-in…/

GER: EU plant Massenüberwachung an Außengrenzen…/umstrittene-kooperation…

IT: La sorveglianza di massa di Frontex scavalca ogni regola…/la-sorveglianza-di…

GR: PeDRA: Το μυστικό πρόγραμμα του Frontex για να επιτηρεί ακόμα και τον σεξουαλικό προσανατολισμό των μεταναστών


European Parliament Scrutinises Frontex Surveillance Programme after BIRN Investigation


EN: The Guardian

A data ‘black hole’: Europol ordered to delete vast store of personal data 

IT: Domani 

Europol sta diventando un’agenzia di sorveglianza di massa…/europol-sta…


Europas Datenmonster…/europaeische-polizeibehoerde…

FR: Mediapart

Europol va devoir effacer une partie de sa base de données…/europol-va-devoir-effacer…

GR: News 24/7

Ευρωπαϊκό Data Gate: Η Europol κατέχει στοιχεία εκατοντάδων χιλιάδων πολιτών – Ποια θα πρέπει να σβηστούν






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