Cyberspace, Surveillance, Law and Privacy

Watt, E. 2017. Cyberspace, Surveillance, Law and Privacy. PhD thesis University of Westminster Law

TitleCyberspace, Surveillance, Law and Privacy
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsWatt, E.

The thesis titled, Cyberspace, Surveillance, Law and Privacy analyses the implications of state sponsored cyber surveillance on the exercise of the human right to privacy of communications and data privacy of individuals, subject to untargeted interception of digital communications. The principle aim of the thesis is to assess the legality of mass cyber surveillance of the Five Eyes alliance, with an emphasis on the United States and the United Kingdom. The study also considers the growing trend among the law enforcement agencies to access data without consent located in foreign jurisdictions without recourse to the Mutual Legal Assistance arrangements. The objective of the thesis is to demonstrate that these activities breach states’ human rights obligations under the international human rights frameworks and to show the unprecedented impact that surveillance technologies continue to have on this right. The research also highlights the inadequate protection of privacy in the internet. This leads to the evaluation of a number of possible legal solutions on the international level to the problem of mass surveillance, since the internet is a global environment designed for unrestricted data flows among jurisdictions and therefore facilitates continued violation of privacy of communications and data privacy. The thesis finds that bearing in mind (a) the highly politicised nature of the internet governance discourse, (b) the reluctance of states to subject peacetime espionage to international law regulation through a legally binding treaty, (c) the fact that international human rights law relating to privacy of communications is in need of modernization, (d) the reluctance of states to commit to a legally binding cyber treaty, (e) the slow pace with which customary cyber international law rules emerge and (f) the tendencies of states on the domestic level towards the introduction of draconian surveillance legislation at the expense of privacy, any progress in this regard at this stage will be piecemeal and likely to be achieved through a combination of the updating of the existing international and regional human rights and data protection instruments and soft law agreements.

PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

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