Mass surveillance in cyberspace and the lost art of keeping a secret: Policy Lessons for Government After the Snowden Leaks

Theo Tryfonas, Michael Carter, Tom Crick, Panos Andriotis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

4 Citations (Scopus)
1534 Downloads (Pure)


Global security concerns, acts of terrorism and organised crime activity have motivated nation states to delve into implementing measures of mass surveillance in cyberspace, the breadth of which was partly revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. But are modern nation states fighting a battle in the wrong space? Is mass surveillance of cyberspace effective and are the conventional metaphors of technology control appropriate for it? Can algorithms detect, classify and decide effectively on what constitutes suspicious activity? We argue that as cyberspace is a construct that has only recently been viewed strategically, let alone indoctrinated (the UKs cyber-security strategy is only four years old), the societal impact of such bulk measures is yet much unclear – as are the assumptions about the fitness of state organisations that are charged with their oversight and the potential for unintended consequences. Recent experiences highlight the role of multiple forms of intelligence inputs, especially human- and community-based, and the need for application of such intrusive measures in a targeted manner. We believe that intrusive measures, where necessary, must be used decoupled from the seductive promises of advanced technology and ought to go hand-in-hand with means that strengthen the affected communities to identify, report and battle extremism and organised crime, in ways that safeguard the fundamental principles of our contemporary democratic Western states.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman Aspects of Information Security, Privacy, and Trust
Subtitle of host publication4th International Conference, HAS 2016, Held as Part of HCI International 2016, Toronto, ON, Canada, July 17-22, 2016, Proceedings
EditorsTheo Tryfonas
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-39381-0
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2016
EventHCI International 2016 -
Duration: 17 Jul 201622 Jul 2016

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISSN (Print)0302-9743


ConferenceHCI International 2016


  • Surveillance
  • Cyberspace
  • Public trust


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