Surveillance and Human Rights

Analysis of key human rights concerns relating to security, discrimination and societal implications of surveillance and examination of existing national regulatory responses.

This focus area assesses the human rights impact of the use of big data and associated technologies for surveillance in the context of security, discrimination and broader societal implications. Following from this, our research also considers the extent to which existing privacy and data protection guarantees at the national level protect against, or enable, potential infringements of human rights. The extent and adequacy of regulatory regimes in the USA, the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil and India will be assessed.

Both components of our research question whether the collection and use of data necessitates a reconceptualisation of privacy, and a rethinking of broader human rights protections. Analysis of disparate national contexts will inform, and be situated against, overarching themes developing across the Project.


Submission to the UK Home Affairs Committee

Policing for the Future: Changing Demands and New Challenges Inquiry

‘I’m glad that was on camera’ (2017)

A Case Study of Police Officers’ Perceptions of Cameras

(A Sandhu, published in Policing and Society)

Investigatory Powers Act 2016

Consultation on the Government’s proposed response to the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union on 21 December 2016 regarding the retention of communications data

(Written submission by Dr. Daragh Murray, Prof. Pete Fussey, and Prof. Maurice Sunkin QC, members of the Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project)


  • May172018

    Police are using big data to profile young people, putting them at risk of discrimination

    Originally published in The Conversation on 16 May 2018. Amnesty International has raised a series of human rights issues in…

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  • Sep052017

    ‘Doxing’ and White Nationalists’ Right to Privacy

    Introduction The recent clash in Charlottesville, Virginia between rival protestors over a statue memorialising a general in the Confederate Army…

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  • Jul272017

    Regulating Surveillance in the UK

    Originally published by the HUJI Cyber Security Research Center’s Cyber Law Program The surveillance practices of intelligence agencies, and in particular…

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  • Jul272017

    Amnesty International’s Tanya O’Carroll on privacy & the ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ argument

    I recently interviewed Tanya O’Carroll, a Technology and Human Rights advisor at Amnesty International, to discuss government surveillance and its…

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  • Jul252017

    “People just don’t get it” – An interview with Kade Crockford of the ACLU of Massachusetts about why surveillance issues aren’t getting the attention they deserve

    The precarious state of privacy often fails to stir public attention. For example, the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA), a piece…

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Our Partners

University of Cambridge
Eye Witness Media
FXB Center for Health & Human Rights
Human Rights Data Analysis Group
Universal Rights Group
World Health Organisation
Geneva Academy