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Mass surveillance in cyberspace and the lost art of keeping a secret: Policy lessons for government after the snowden leaks

Tryfonas, Theo; Carter, Michael; Crick, Tom; Andriotis, Panagiotis


Theo Tryfonas

Michael Carter

Tom Crick

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Dr Panos Andriotis
Senior Lecturer in Computer Forensics and Security


© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016. 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.


Tryfonas, T., Carter, M., Crick, T., & Andriotis, P. (2016). Mass surveillance in cyberspace and the lost art of keeping a secret: Policy lessons for government after the snowden leaks. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, 9750, 174-185.

Journal Article Type Conference Paper
Acceptance Date Dec 11, 2015
Publication Date Jan 1, 2016
Journal Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Print ISSN 0302-9743
Electronic ISSN 1611-3349
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9750
Pages 174-185
Book Title Human Aspects of Information Security, Privacy, and Trust
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : The final publication is available at Springer via
Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : 4th International Conference, HAS 2016, Held as Part of HCI International 2016


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