Surveillance, privacy and security

Do governments need new powers to stop mobile communications becoming a dangerous new way for terrorists and criminals to conspire? 

13 February 2015: Surveillance, privacy and security by Ecfr on Mixcloud


Sir David Omand, Former Director, GCHQ

Andrew Puddephatt, Director, Global Partners & Associated


Chaired by

Anthony Dworkin, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR

The recent attacks in Paris have brought renewed attention to the use of surveillance against terrorist suspects. Governments in the UK and elsewhere have suggested that greater powers are needed to track digital communications and find individuals who may pose a security threat. But others believe surveillance has already gone too far, and that reform is need to bring greater oversight and legitimacy to the practices that Edward Snowden revealed.

Do governments need new powers to stop the internet and mobile communications becoming a dangerous new way for terrorists and criminals to conspire? Or should we be more concerned that our trust and privacy are threatened by unregulated mass surveillance? At a time when digital technology is transforming our lives, what is the best way to balance the protection of national security with human rights including freedom of expression? Do we need a fundamental reassessment of the rules and agreements that apply to the new world of information technology? Is mass surveillance here to stay?​

This discussion offered a chance to explore these questions with two leading experts – Sir David Omand, a former government intelligence coordinator and director of GCHQ, and Andrew Puddephatt, former director of Article 19 and a leading authority on freedom of expression and new media. The event marked the publication of the new ECFR memo ‘Surveillance, privacy and security: Europe's confused response to Snowden’(2015) by senior policy fellow Anthony Dworkin.

Sir David Omand was the first UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator, responsible to the Prime Minister for the professional health of the intelligence community, national counter-terrorism strategy and homeland security. He was Permanent Secretary of the Home Office from 1997 to 2000, and before that Director of GCHQ. He was Principal Private Secretary to the Defence Secretary during the Falklands conflict, and served for three years in NATO Brussels as the UK Defence Counsellor. He is a visiting professor in the War Studies Department of King’s College London and at Sciences-Po in Paris.

Andrew Puddephatt is the Directorof Global Partners & Associated, an organisation that promotes good governance, democracy and human rights. He chairs the Danish based organisation International Media Support and is Deputy Chair of the Sigrid Rausing Trust. An expert advisor to UNESCO and UNDP he was awarded an OBE for services to human rights. He is a board member of ECFR.

Anthony Dworkin is a senior policy fellow at ECFR, where he leads the organisation’s work in the area of human rights, democracy, and justice. He has been a member of the Terrorism/Counterterrorism Advisory Committee and the London Advocacy Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch.