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Robbins, S. (2021). Bulk data collection, national security and ethics. In S. Miller, A. Henschke, & J. Feltes (eds.) Counter-Terrorism. Edward Elgar Publishing.




The rise of Internet communications has necessitated a rise in digital national
security intelligence collection (including counter-terrorism intelligence and
military intelligence) – currently at a scale never seen before in liberal democracies. The Snowden revelations of 2013 exposed digital intelligence collection that was pervasive and perhaps illegal (Greenwald 2013). People around
the world were shocked at the capabilities of the National Security Agency
(NSA), and the intelligence-collection practices revealed by Snowden have
not slowed. On the contrary, many of these practices are being enshrined in the
law (Pieters 2016; Travis 2016). Whether or not these practices are legal, it is
essential to understand whether or not they are ethical – or how these practices
can be conducted ethically. This involves identifying what makes these practices different from those that came before. Then, one must highlight how this
changes the ethical analysis