The Guardian's Publications of Snowden Files: Assessing the Standards of Freedom of Speech in the Context of State Secrets and Mass Surveillance
Information & Communications Technology Law, Vol 25(3), 201-228
Posted: 14 Jul 2016 Last revised: 9 May 2017
Date Written: July 11, 2016
The unprecedented pressure that has been exerted on The Guardian by UK authorities for disclosing state secrets about mass surveillance programmes of security and intelligence services and the instrumental involvement of large high-tech corporations has legal and practical consequences. On one hand, it endangers freedom of speech that characterises and sustains democracy at domestic level and, on the other, it reinforces cross-jurisdictional tactics of media organisations and uncontrolled disclosures on the internet, where the danger of manipulation of national state secrets is considerable. The legal problem involved lies in a judicial deviation from the entrenched standards of constitutional review, forcing an exclusive focus on the alleged damage that is caused by media publications. To secure a healthy political and public debate domestically and avoid unwarranted disclosures and manipulation of national state secrets in foreign media and digital markets, the importance of the public interest issue that is disclosed by domestic media must be evaluated, and safeguarded accordingly by a higher level of protection of freedom of speech in constitutional review.
Keywords: Media, official secrets, political speech, public interest, privacy, security services, R v Shayler
JEL Classification: kK19, K33, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation