City Research Online

A Democratic Licence to Operate: Report of the Independent Surveillance Review

Clarke, M., Brooke, H., Hennessy, P. , O'Neill, O., Omand, D., Cowley, L., Evans, J., Lane-Fox, M., Grieve, J., Hall, W., Rooker, J., Scarlett, J. & Walden, I. (2015). A Democratic Licence to Operate: Report of the Independent Surveillance Review (Whitehall Report 2-15,). London: Royal United Services Institute.


The British population has been greatly affected by the rapid evolution in information and communications technology. In this digital society, we all leave extensive traces of our behaviour and interactions in the course of our normal, everyday lives. We have unprecedented opportunities to express ourselves, to connect and share knowledge, to be prosperous and inventive. At the same time, the digital society also presents new challenges, making citizens potential targets for fraudsters, criminals and possibly terrorists. The task for the police and SIAs has become more demanding as they try to stay abreast of rapid technological innovation and deal with threats that emanate from across the globe. It is important to ensure that the powers granted to these agencies to protect the public are explicit, comprehensible, and are seen to be both lawful and consistent with democratic values. The citizen’s right to privacy online as offline – and what constitutes a ‘justifiable’ level of intrusion by the state – has become a central topic of debate. As traditional notions of national security and public safety compete with the realities of digital society, it is necessary to periodically renew the licence of the police, security and intelligence agencies to operate. This report aims to enable the public at large to engage in a more informed way in the debate, so that a broad consensus can be achieved and a new, democratic licence to operate can be agreed.

Publication Type: Report
Publisher Keywords: Security; Surveillance; Intelligence agencies
Subjects: Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
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