Privacy in Fact and Fiction: Histories of English and Australian Intelligence Archives

(2014) 19 Media and Arts Law Review 229

21 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2017 Last revised: 8 Oct 2017

See all articles by Jake Goldenfein

Jake Goldenfein

Swinburne Law School; Cornell Tech - Cornell University

Date Written: October 2, 2014


In light of recent exposures as to the scope of intelligence surveillance occurring world wide, privacy’s ability to protect individuals has been increasingly called into question. While privacy law has had some success in limiting the scope of ordinary ‘administrative’ law enforcement surveillance, it has been less effective at restraining intelligence surveillance. Privacy jurisprudence around intelligence often acquiesces to state secrecy and the needs of national security, leaving a wide ‘margin of discretion’ for states. This article looks at the history of Anglo and Australian intelligence surveillance, with particular focus on the origins of the surveillance archive and practices of dossier keeping. That analysis suggests privacy may be a more appropriate concept for establishing the limits of certain liberal policing practices than increasingly illiberal intelligence surveillance. Consequently, it is argued access and correction rights over the intelligence archive may be more important than restraining the scope of surveillance at first instance. This is because the proper limits to intelligence surveillance are better established by reducing the sphere of state secrecy than enhancing the individual’s private sphere.

Keywords: Surveillance studies, legal history, privacy law

Suggested Citation

Goldenfein, Jake, Privacy in Fact and Fiction: Histories of English and Australian Intelligence Archives (October 2, 2014). (2014) 19 Media and Arts Law Review 229. Available at SSRN:

Jake Goldenfein (Contact Author)

Swinburne Law School ( email )

Cnr Wakefield and William Streets, Hawthorn Victor
Melbourne, Victoria 3122

Cornell Tech - Cornell University ( email )

111 8th Avenue #302
New York, NY 10011
United States

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