Dataveillance and Terrorism: Swamps, Haystacks and the Eye of Providence

Routledge Handbook of Law and Terrorism (edited by Genevieve Lennon and Clive Walker) (Routledge, 2015)

Posted: 6 Oct 2015 Last revised: 26 Oct 2015

Date Written: May 31, 2014

Abstract

In today’s ‘pre-crime’ society it is easy to understand the appeal of a technology that promises to identify terrorist plots and stop attacks before they happen – even when the would-be perpetrators have never previously attracted the attention of the authorities or aroused any suspicion (unknown unknowns, in Rumsfeldian terminology). Mass dataveillance programmes – which have been the subject of much discussion and controversy since the Snowden revelations of 2013 – have been claimed to offer this degree of predictive potential. This chapter first of all examines the effectiveness of pattern-based queries, arguing that there are significant problems in terms of modelling, false positives and false negatives. Given that pattern-based queries involve suspicion-less searches of individuals’ data, the chapter then examines legal protection of the right to privacy in this context and considers the significance of these privacy-based concerns.

Keywords: Dataveillance, Surveillance, Security, Liberty, Privacy

JEL Classification: K00, K14, K33

Suggested Citation

MacDonald, Stuart K., Dataveillance and Terrorism: Swamps, Haystacks and the Eye of Providence (May 31, 2014). Routledge Handbook of Law and Terrorism (edited by Genevieve Lennon and Clive Walker) (Routledge, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2667617

Stuart K. MacDonald (Contact Author)

Swansea University College of Law ( email )

Richard Price Building
Singleton Park
Swansea, SA2 8PP
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.swansea.ac.uk/staff/academic/law/macdonalds/

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