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Policy discourse and data retention: the technology politics of surveillance in the United Kingdom

By Edgar A. Whitley and Ian Hosein


This article presents an analysis of UK legislation on the retention of communications data that was introduced in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001. It presents a review of the discourses surrounding this legislation in parliament, in the wider international policy arena, in business and in terms of technology. The review of these discourses demonstrates that, in understanding policies involving a significant technological component such as communications data retention, policy alternatives may be evaluated only with an appreciation of technological characteristics alongside the traditional concerns of legislators, civil society and the business community. While academia has developed many forms of analysis for political, international, and regulatory discourses, the same must be undertaken for technological discourse, i.e. the interactions between the policies in question, the actors, and the technologies. Developing forms of analysis for technological discourses will likely lead to further understanding of both the policy problem and the actors’ interests. The paper also shows how current institutions are slowly developing the necessary skills to incorporate the technological aspects of policy into political debate, and calls for a similar development for the law

Topics: JN101 Great Britain, QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Year: 2005
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.telpol.2005.06.012
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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