Home > Publications > Mass surveillance: security by ‘remote control’ – consequences and effectiveness

This briefing paper, by the Remote Control project, looks at the implications and effectiveness of mass surveillance as a counter-terrorism strategy following the Edward Snowden leaks in 2013.

The briefing finds that mass surveillance programmes are leading to a number of unforeseen consequences, including the proliferation of surveillance technologies to authoritarian regimes, a decrease in public trust in government and the weakening of internet security. As well as this, doubts over the ability of mass surveillance to thwart terror plots have also been found.

Mass surveillance, the briefing argues, is an example of security by ‘remote control’ – the move towards countering threats at a distance without the need to deploy large military force. As technological advances have increased government intelligence gathering capabilities, mass surveillance techniques demonstrate the increasing interconnectedness between intelligence, technology and modern day warfare and the central role communications surveillance is in playing in modern conflict.