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

Abstract

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

Xenos, Dimitris, The Guardian's Publications of Snowden Files: Assessing the Standards of Freedom of Speech in the Context of State Secrets and Mass Surveillance (July 11, 2016). Information & Communications Technology Law, Vol 25(3), 201-228. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2808360

Dimitris Xenos (Contact Author)

University of Suffolk ( email )

Waterfront Building
19 Neptune Quay
Ipswich, IP4 1QJ
United Kingdom
+44(0)14733-38483 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http:// https://www.uos.ac.uk/people/dimitris-xenos

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