‘Surveillance and Citizenship’ Conference

Over 100 international experts from academia, civil society and technology met in Cardiff on Thursday and Friday, 18-19 June, to discuss the implications of the Snowden revelations two years after they started to be published, as well as the current state of surveillance. More information about the conference is available here: http://www.dcssproject.net/conference. Pictures and reports will be uploaded soon.

Anderson Report highlights the problem of surveillance powers in the UK

David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, published a major report today in which he criticised UK surveillance laws as ‘fragmented’, ‘obscure’, ‘undemocratic’ and ‘intolerable’. Dr Arne Hintz from the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) said the report “does not reject mass surveillance per se but demands legal safeguards that are much more rigid than current practices.” He noted: “This will affect the government’s plans for a new Communications Data Bill, also called the ‘Snooper’s Charter’, as it calls for a serious review of both authorisation and oversight of surveillance capabilities, and thus for a reform of Britain’s surveillance legislation.”

Dr Hintz leads an 18-month research project ‘Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society’ at Cardiff University that investigates the implications of the Snowden revelations on mass surveillance. As part of this project, Cardiff University will host a major conference on 18-19 June – ‘Surveillance and Citizenship’ – that will bring together leading international scholars and campaigners. It will be an opportunity for researchers and advocates to review and discuss the Anderson Report as well as the new government’s plans for the Communications Data Bill.

Dr Lina Dencik, a Cardiff University researcher working on the same project, said: “The Report confirms important findings from our research. We have found that the lack of transparency surrounding the level of state surveillance and the way it is being conducted remains a major concern amongst the British public. People want to know why and how their personal data is being collected and used, and what legal safeguards exist. This is central at a time when one of the first acts of the newly elected Conservative government has been to increase the surveillance powers of intelligence agencies at the same time as withholding the publication of annual transparency reports on the security services as initiated under the coalition government.”

Anderson Report: https://terrorismlegislationreviewer.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/IPR-Report-Web-Accessible1.pdf

Response by Privacy International: https://www.privacyinternational.org/?q=node/595 / Response by the ‘Don’t Spy On Us’ network: https://www.dontspyonus.org.uk/blog/2015/06/11/dont-spy-on-us-response-to-the-anderson-review/

Conference ‘Surveillance and Citizenship’: http://www.dcssproject.net/conference/

‘In an Age of Surveillance’ – DCSS Project presented at the Hay Festival

Arne Hintz, Lina Dencik and Joe Cable discussed internet surveillance and the project ‘Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society’ at the Hay Book Festival in Hay on Wye on Friday 22nd May. Drawing from preliminary research findings, they summarised key Snowden leaks and the debates and broader issues that the leaks have raised. They addressed the transformations of online communication, the role of civic rights in a context of security, and national and international responses to the Snowden leaks. Further, they unpacked prominent discourses and justifications for surveillance, such as notion that ‘if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about’. They reviewed the media coverage of surveillance and the Snowden revelations, and discussed the level of public knowledge of, and civil society reactions to the leaks.

The 1-hour talk had to be moved to a larger venue due to high demand for tickets. It was the most recent of several talks which project members held about both surveillance and the DCSS project in particular, including presentations at the universities in Bournemouth, Hull and Cardiff.

Research Seminar: Wednesday 29 April, 4pm, room 0.05, Bute building, Cardiff University

Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society: UK State-Media-Citizen Relations after the Snowden Leaks
Arne Hintz, Lina Dencik, and Karin Wahl-Jorgensen

The 18-month ESRC-funded research project “Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society” explores the nature, opportunities and challenges of digital citizenship in light of the governmental surveillance measures revealed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Since the initial leaks were published by The Guardian and the Washington Post in June 2013, the revelations have prompted significant debates on the nature of civil rights in a context of security; the extent of state interference in civil life; the accountability of government agencies and corporate intermediaries; the uses of technical infrastructures; the protection of our privacy and personal communication; and the role, responsibilities and limitations of journalists reporting on state activities. This project analyses the implications of the Snowden leaks in four areas: policy, law and regulation; technological infrastructures; civil society, advocacy and activism; media coverage and press freedoms. Four of the project’s investigators and researchers will present preliminary results.

Conference Keynote Speakers Announced

Speakers include (among others):

Ben Wizner (ACLU, Edward Snowden’s lawyer), Caspar Bowden (former Chief Privacy Adviser for Microsoft), Mark Andrejevic (Ponoma College, US), Kirstie Ball (Open University, UK), Seda Guerses (New York University, US), Tony Bunyan (Statewatch), James Ball (The Guardian)