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Resisting state surveillance in the digital age : precarious coalitions, contested knowledge and diverse opposition to mass-surveillance and the UK's Investigatory Powers Act

Stevens, Amy (2021) Resisting state surveillance in the digital age : precarious coalitions, contested knowledge and diverse opposition to mass-surveillance and the UK's Investigatory Powers Act. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations of US and UK government mass-surveillance cast a new spotlight on state surveillance activities. The scale and potential illegality of these actions drove states to update legislation governing surveillance powers, revealing a desire to not only legalise what had been exposed but also add powers deemed necessary to maintain surveillance capabilities in an increasingly digital world. In the UK this culminated in the form of the Investigatory Powers Act. The scale of the powers within this legislation highlighted an urgent need to make sense of the scope and reach of state surveillance in the digital age. Crucially, it also offered a key moment to investigate resistance against state surveillance at a time of heightened debate over how government organisations access and use communications data. This thesis seizes on this opportunity and seeks to interrogate the form, confluence and utility of resistance to surveillance in the digital age. Through a case study of the Investigatory Powers Act – combining analysis of publicly available submissions to parliamentary committees scrutinising the Act with semi-structured interviews with key informants – this research provides the first comprehensive mapping of organised resistance to state surveillance in the UK after Snowden. In doing so, the research reveals a diverse assemblage of actors who coalesced in resistance to the Act. It tracks these actors and their relationships and details the roles they played in shaping the form and dynamics of resistance as it emerged. As a result, the thesis disrupts existing binary formations of anti-surveillance actors and demonstrates how resistance is dynamically constructed within this diverse assemblage, emphasising the varied arguments and knowledge that these groups brought to the debate. The findings establish the dynamic and diverse multi-actor complexity of this resistance, arguing how this should be a central consideration for future research on anti-surveillance activism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 27 May 2021 17:47
Last Modified: 27 May 2021 18:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/30510

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