Mass Surveillance, Privacy, and Freedom: A Case for Public Access to Information About Mass Government Surveillance Programs

Adam D. Moore (ed.), Privacy, Security and Accountability: Ethics, Law, and Policy, ch. 11, pp. 203-222 (London: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2015).

20 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2016

See all articles by Bryce Clayton Newell

Bryce Clayton Newell

University of Oregon - School of Journalism and Communication; Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT)

Date Written: December 1, 2015

Abstract

An imbalance in information access between a people and their government will tip the scales of power and limit the ability of the people to exercise democratic oversight and control those they have put in power to represent them. Freedom of information laws provide one way to access to government records and serve as a powerful and effective means for empowering oversight by journalists and ordinary citizens. These laws, which provide a legal mechanism for citizen-initiated reciprocal-surveillance must capture more information about the legal bases and secret surveillance programs to ensure that "adequate and effective guarantees against abuse" (Klass and Others v. Germany, 2 Eur. H.R. Rep. 214, para. 50) exist. The violation of our rights should not hinge on our awareness of government overreaching, but whether the government has in fact acted impermissibly, visibly or in secret. As such, our access to remedies (and information) should not similarly be limited solely to cases involving non-secret government action. Strict limitations on standing in cases challenging secret government surveillance activities constitute an interference with individual freedom, as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has held. The stark differences in the ability of plaintiffs to claim violations of their constitutional or basic human rights in the U.S. and at the ECHR, provides a suggestive critique of the nature of the current judicial politics of surveillance and transparency in domestic U.S. courts. The unwillingness of U.S. courts to allow challenges to secret government surveillance programs on standing grounds is a failure of the judicial system to check the ability of the executive to usurp arbitrary domination over the people. It is a failure of antipower in America.

Keywords: privacy, surveillance, mass surveillance, freedom, access to information, freedom of information

Suggested Citation

Newell, Bryce Clayton, Mass Surveillance, Privacy, and Freedom: A Case for Public Access to Information About Mass Government Surveillance Programs (December 1, 2015). Adam D. Moore (ed.), Privacy, Security and Accountability: Ethics, Law, and Policy, ch. 11, pp. 203-222 (London: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2015).. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2727111

Bryce Clayton Newell (Contact Author)

University of Oregon - School of Journalism and Communication ( email )

Eugene, OR
United States

Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT)

P.O. Box 90153
TILT
Tilburg, Noord Brabant 5000 LE
Netherlands

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
252
Abstract Views
1,168
rank
122,085
PlumX Metrics