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

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

  • John Grieve
  • Michael Clarke
  • Heather Brook
  • Lesley Cowley
  • Jonathan Evans
  • Martha Lane Fox
  • Wendy Hall
  • Peter Hennessy
  • David Ormand
  • Onora O'Neill
  • Jeffrey Rooker
  • John Scarlett
  • Ian Walden
As national security and public safety compete with the realities of digital society, the Independent Surveillance Review suggests a new licence to operate for the security and law-enforcement services.

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.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherRoyal United Services Institute
Commissioning bodyRoyal United Services Institute
Number of pages154
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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