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


  • Whitley, Edgar A.
  • Hosein, Ian


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Whitley, Edgar A. & Hosein, Ian, 2005. "Policy discourse and data retention: The technology politics of surveillance in the United Kingdom," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 857-874, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:telpol:v:29:y:2005:i:11:p:857-874

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Ahn, Hyungtaik & Lee, Myeong-Ho, 1999. "An econometric analysis of the demand for access to mobile telephone networks," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 297-305, September.
    7. Heli Koski & Tobias Kretschmer, 2004. "Entry, Standards and Competition: Firm Strategies and the Diffusion of Mobile Telephony," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 26(1), pages 89-113, November.
    8. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-838, May.
    9. Gruber, Harald & Verboven, Frank, 2001. "The diffusion of mobile telecommunications services in the European Union," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 577-588, March.
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