The Trade Off: Individual Privacy and National Security

Talk Tuesday 9 July 2013, 7:00 PM

Privacy of the individual, secrecy of the state and national security have been in sharp focus in past weeks due to the leak of material from the US’s National Security Agency (NSA).

It has been revealed that under the so-called Prism programme millions of phone calls have been gathered and Internet use has been monitored on a massive scale. In the UK there are suggestions that the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has also accessed the material.

The chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Conservative MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “in order to protect the public that does require, as President Obama said in Washington, some intrusion on privacy in certain circumstances”. The murder on 22 May of Drummer Lee Rigby reignited calls for the draft communications data bill to be re-examined.

As the debate about individual privacy, state secrecy and national security continues, we will be joined by a panel of experts to ask whether it is possible to strike a balance. Are we moving towards a surveillance state or is the idea of online privacy a myth?

Chaired by Mark Urban, diplomatic and defence editor for BBC Two’s Newsnight. He is the author of several books including Big Boys’ Rules: The SAS and the Secret Struggle Against the IRA, The Tank War and Task Force Black: The explosive true story of the SAS and the secret war in Iraq.

The panel:

Sir Malcolm Rifkind is MP for Kensington and chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. In 1990 he became Secretary of State for Transport and in 1992 Secretary of State for Defence. From 1995-97 he was Foreign Secretary. He was re-elected as a Member of Parliament in May 2005 for Kensington and Chelsea. He was elected as Member of Parliament for Kensington in May 2010. He served as the Shadow Secretary of State for Work & Pensions and Welfare Reform until December 2005.

John Kampfner is adviser to Google on freedom of expression and culture. He is an author, broadcaster and commentator specialising in UK politics, international affairs, media and human rights issues. Previously he served as chief executive of Index on Censorship from Sept 2008 until March 2012 and was editor of the New Statesman from 2005-2008. He is the author of a number of books including, most recently, Freedom For Sale.

John Naughton is a senior research fellow at CRASSH, emeritus professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University, vice-president of Wolfson College, Cambridge and an adjunct professor at University College Cork. He is director of the Wolfson Press Fellowship Programme and a well-known newspaper columnist, writing the Observer’s Networker column. He is author of a well-known history of the Internet A Brief History of the Future and most recently From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: what you really need to know about the Internet.

Helen Margetts is the director of the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), a department of the University of Oxford investigating individual, collective and organisational behaviour online. Her research focuses on digital governance and politics, investigating the dynamics of online relationships between governments and citizens, and collective action on the Internet. She is the co-author of Paradoxes of Modernization: Unintended Consequences of Public Policy Reform; The Tools of Government in the Digital Age; and Digital Era Governance: IT Corporations, the State and e-Government. She currently holds an ESRC professorial fellowship entitled The Internet, Political Science and Public Policy, is editor-in-chief of the journal Policy and Internet and sits on the Advisory Board of the Government Digital Service in the Cabinet Office.