In the context of electronic mass surveillance, private actors have gained an intermediate position in-between the state and the individuals, by which they are entitled to negotiate the balance of inter-ests. This prerogative has traditionally belonged to the state, as the only legal body enabled – even through the judicial power – to make a balance of interests, for instance between national security and privacy. Nowadays, corporate actors are in the position to influence and possibly to jeopardize such a balance in the name of the protection of property rights, by using the idea of the right to pri-vacy as a shield against state interference. This is a distinct example of the fading boundaries be-tween the public and the private dimension of information gathering. The paper will focus on the cooperative and competitive dimensions of the public/private partnership as regards information gathering.