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Dissertation Plan: Mass Surveillance in the UK

Module Title: Legal Research Theory and Practice
Module Code: MOD004987


ASSIGNMENT 2:

topic : Mass surveillance 

You are required to submit a preliminary plan for a dissertation.  

This plan requires you to perform six tasks; these tasks together are known as a ‘portfolio’. They include the construction of: 

  1. A finalised research question or statement of your choosing for a hypothetical      dissertation
  2. The context or background of the question you have identified and an explanation of why it is relevant to look at it
  3. A brief methodology/research approach analysis for addressing the question and why it is that you are choosing that approach
  4. Some of the key themes for consideration around the question
  5. The organisation of the hypothetical dissertation.

Answer

Introduction

This assignment will focus on making a preliminary plan for a dissertation, which will be related to the topic mass surveillance in the United Kingdom. For making up this preliminary plan, the sincere efforts will be made in working on the required portfolios. While making up this preliminary plan for the dissertation, the finalised statement will be selected based upon the topic. After that, the background of the identified research question will be discussed with special emphasis on its relevance. Thereafter, the sincere efforts will be made for addressing the identified research question with the help of the research approach analysis along and the reasons for choosing that research approach will also be highlighted. In addition, the key themes around the question will be discussed the endeavour will be made in giving the preliminary outline of the structure of hypothetical dissertation.


Finalised research question

The research question of this topic illustrates how the mass surveillance in the United Kingdom has been influencing the privacy of the common people and to what extent the mass surveillance activities in the United Kingdom have been able to maintain compatibility with the concept of human rights. The role of intelligence services, existing legislations and Governmental bodies also needs to be illustrated[1]


The context of the identified research question with special emphasis on its relevance

While discussing the context of the identified research questions, it can be said that the research questions will be framed based upon the objectives of showing different aspects of the mass surveillance in the United Kingdom. With the help of the discussion on this topic, it will be understood how the Government of the United Kingdom has been indulging into the mass surveillance activities[2]. As the global terrorism has become rampant and the United Kingdom has been facing threats because of that, mass surveillance has become the matter of prime importance to the Government of the United Kingdom. The role of Government Communications Headquarters cannot be denied in this context. The Government Communications Headquarters has been responsible for making optimum utilisation of its capabilities for intercepting communications through electronic mode. 


The Government of the United Kingdom has passed Investigatory Powers Act in the year 2016. This law has also given the intelligence agencies power to intercept electronic communications. Moreover, the intelligence officers have been given the power of seeing the records of internet usage. In this way, the targeted equipment interference has been encouraged. There are other legislations, which have been passed with the purpose of encouraging the mass surveillance activities, such as, Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act of 2014[3]. Because of the revelation made by Edward Snowden about the mass surveillance activities in the United Kingdom, the protest has been raised against the Government of the United Kingdom. The people have started demanding that the surveillance activities should not occur until anyone does not arouse suspicion. The demand has also been made for securing the websites for ensuring the protection of the people’s privacy. The social media has also come under the range of mass surveillance activities, as a result of which, the people in the United Kingdom has been raising their voices against the Government and accusing it of the undue interference in the privacy of the people. 


The non-governmental organisations (Liberty, Privacy International etc.) dealing with the human rights have also been protesting against the UK Government’s measure for conducting mass surveillance-related activities in the name of protecting the interests of the country. The European Court of Human Rights has warned the United Kingdom about interference on the privacy of the common people through mass surveillance and emphasised on maintaining compliance with the law while dealing with the interference in the people’s privacy. In this way, a lot of issues has been created because of the mass surveillance activities. The issues have been created because the democratic right of the people is under threat because of the conduction of the mass surveillance activities in the United Kingdom[4].


This is research question is relevant to the topic as it will highlight the role of the Government of the United Kingdom in conducting mass surveillance activities. The in-detail illustration of the research question will help the researcher in getting to understand the role of intelligence services in the United Kingdom in the context of mass surveillance. Moreover, the role of judiciary and administration will also be clarified in the context of mass surveillance thereby resulting in clearing the idea about the mass surveillance activities in the United Kingdom. The research question will also be helping the researcher in getting to understand the aims, purposes and rationale of the research topic and it will be possible to create the hypothesis for the research. From this point of view, the discussion of the background of the research question is out-and-out relevant.


Methodology for addressing the question and reason for choosing that approach

The effectual methodology will be used for ensuring that the question. For ensuring the effective research on the topic, it will be ensured that the data is going to be collected from both of the sources- quantitative and qualitative. The qualitative data will be collected through different sources, such as, websites, books, journals etc., which are supposed to be authenticated and relevant. The descriptive qualitative research method will be followed. With the help of the descriptive qualitative research method, the relevant specific events will be summarised in the context of the mass surveillance[5]. The experienced faced by the people will also be taken into considerations in this context for conducting this research. The effective utilisation of the descriptive qualitative research will help the researcher in hypothesising the variables associated with the research topic. The experiences of the people affected by the mass surveillance will also be recorded for making the research informative and excellent in terms of quality. In the descriptive qualitative research, the focus will not be given for ensuring the description of the event in terms of numbers[6]


The number will not be given prime importance as the research oriented information will be collected through descriptive qualitative research method. The researcher will observe the entire things from the point of view of the respondents, i.e., victims of the mass surveillance. The people associated with the research will be studied in a systematic manner with the help of which, the in-detail information can be got about the mass surveillance and its impact on the socio-political structure of the country the United Kingdom. The opinion of the people associated with the research will critically be analysed and interpreted for ensuring the maintenance of the quality of the research. The culture of the people associated with the research will also be assessed in an effective manner thereby resulting in enabling the researcher seeing the entire things from the point of view of the respondents or subjects of the research study. The diametrical research will be based on the two research-oriented philosophies- interpretivism and positivism. The research topic will be based on interpretive research philosophy, as the research-oriented problems will be studied based upon the perceptions of the people over the situation like Mass Surveillance. On the other hand, it can be averred that the positivist research philosophy will also be followed for making up this research topic as the research-oriented problems will be analysed and assessed based upon critical examination[7].


The secondary quantitative research will be followed for making up the research. With the help of the secondary quantitative research approach, the quantitative data will be collected from the websites, journals and books which are authentic. The efforts will be made for ensuring the statistical representation of the relevant data with the objective of making the diametrical research informative. The numbers will be given prime importance while applying the secondary quantitative research method.


The law reform analysis method is followed for conducting the research. With the help of the effective utilisation of the law reform analysis method, the existing and new legislations will critically be analysed for getting to know to what extent the existing legislations have made the impact on the lives of the people. Moreover, the role of mass surveillance will also be illustrated in this context. The effectiveness of the existing and new laws will critically be analysed.


With the help of the black letter law analysis, the sincere efforts will be made to make an effectual analysis of the principles of the existing and new legislations, which are devoid of disputes and doubts. The existing and new legislations will critically be analysed in the light of the basic elements of the law. In this way, it will be come to know what part of the existing and new legislations are devoid of disputes.


The socio-legal approach will help the researcher in getting to understand the relationship between the existing legal framework and the society. The impact of the existing legislations on the society will also be known with the help of the application of socio-legal approach in making up the research project. In this context, the in-detail discussion will be made on the impact of legislations on the mass surveillance-related activities. The socio-legal approach will help the researcher in building up the theoretical underpinnings pertinent to the mass surveillance-related legislations. The entire research will be discussed based upon the effective interpretation of the facts and evidence.


The legal theory approach will be applied for making up the project. With the help of the effectual application of the legal theory approach, the effective idea can be got about the theoretical aspects of the existing and new legislations in the context of mass surveillance.  


Key themes for consideration around the question

Based on the illustration of the discussion on the research question, the sincere efforts can be made in critically discussing the entire things based upon the summarisation of the key themes. The sincere endeavour will be made for critically discussing the entire things by shedding light on the key themes. The key themes for consideration around the research questions are as follows:

The impact of mass surveillance on the society

The mass surveillance affects the society to a great extent. The mass surveillance helps the United Kingdom’s Government in interfering in the private matters of the people. The mass surveillance helps the UK Government in acquiring information about the phone calls, internet access related history, e-mail records. In this way, the privacy of the people is affected to a great extent thereby resulting in subduing the rights to freedom and speech of the people. As a result, the level of discontent grows amongst the people associated with the society. In this way, the balance in the society gets hampered and they raise their voice for protest against the Government[8]


The role of intelligence services in conducting the mass surveillance activities

The role of different intelligent services like MI6, Government Communications Headquarters etc. cannot be denied when it comes to the matter of conducting mass surveillance-related activities in the United Kingdom. With the help of the effective utilisation of the intelligence services, the Government of United Kingdom can be able to ensure the effective control over the activities of the general public. The intelligence services of the United Kingdom has been playing the prominent role in checking out the phone call records, internet accessing history, social media accounts, credit card and debit card records etc. All the things are for the sake of the protection of the national interests. In this way, the intelligence service organisations ensure the effective control and interference of Government in the private lives of people thereby resulting in hampering the privacy of the people.


The opinion of people about the mass surveillance in the United Kingdom

The people generally hold the negative opinion about the mass surveillance as it hampers their private lives. The level of the discontent of the people increases because of the existence Governmental control over the lives of the people through effective utilisation of mass surveillance activities. That is why most of the people give the opinion against the mass surveillance.


The role of the Government in ensuring the conduction of mass surveillance activities

The Government of the United Kingdom makes the effective utilisation of its administrative machinery for ensuring the effective control over the lives of the people. With the help of the intelligence services, the Government makes interferences in the lives of the people thereby resulting in increasing the level of the discontent of the people associated with the society. Moreover, the Government of the United Kingdom passes legislations for ensuring control of the people’s lives. In this way, the Government acquires information about the private lives of the people through mass surveillance in the name of protecting national interests[9].


To what extent mass surveillance violates the international human rights related legislations

The spying or mass surveillance-related activities violate the international human rights to a great extent. The mass surveillance-related activities are against the principles of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 12 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights prohibits the idea of interfering with the private lives of the people. In this context, it can be said that International Convention on Civil and Political Rights also prohibits the idea of interfering with the private lives of the people. In the eyes of UN Human Rights Committee, the interference of the Government in the lives of people is unacceptable in the democratic society. The General Assembly of the United Nations also expressed its in-depth concern about the growing tendency of mass surveillance through the adoption of 68/167 resolution. The right to privacy is considered as the precious thing which needs to be protected at any cost. The interference can be made into the private lives of the people within specified legal framework[10].


The organisation of the hypothetical dissertation

The sincere efforts will be made in organising the hypothetical dissertation in the logical and structured way. The entire dissertation's structure will be divided into five parts. In the Introduction part, the background, rationale, aim, objectives and questions of the research will be analysed with emphasis on the research questions and hypothesis. After that, the literature review will focus on discussing the relevant conceptual framework with special emphasis on the discussion of the relevant theoretical framework. Thereafter, the discussion will be made upon the research methodology, whereas it will be evident what research methodology had been used for conducting the research. Moreover, the relevant data will be analysed while making discourse on the data analysis and interpretation. At last, in the concluding part, the recommendations, research limitations and future scope of the study will be discussed. The entire dissertation will be made based on the authentic journals, books and websites. The relevant figures and tables will also be used.


Conclusion

It is important to acquire information from different sources for making the dissertation about the mass surveillance informative. The opinions of the respondents ought to be collected. Moreover, the collected opinions should be interpreted in an effective manner and neutrality should be maintained while summarising their opinions. In this way, the value of the research can be increased. The research can be proved as utilitarian when it comes to getting the idea about the mass surveillance and the Government’s misuse of administrative power in interfering in the lives of people. It will help in increasing the level of awareness about the mass surveillance amongst the people.


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