Globalisation, Citizenship and the War on Terror

Globalisation, Citizenship and the War on Terror

Edited by Maurice Mullard and Bankole A. Cole

This book explores globalisation and the war on terror in a world that is becoming increasingly and significantly polarised and in which dialogue is undermined. The authors contend that citizenship does not obey a static definition, and that its meaning is located in changing economic, social and political contexts. Equally, civil, political and social rights are continually being politically defined. The war on terror has, the book argues, influenced issues of civil liberties and prioritised the need for ‘security’ over and above the protection of human rights: it has redefined the meaning of the rule of law.

Chapter 11: Globalisation, Surveillance and the ‘War’ on Terror

Michael McCahill

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights, international politics, international relations, terrorism and security


Michael McCahill INTRODUCTION This chapter aims to explore the relationship between ‘globalisation’, the ‘war on terror’, ‘surveillance’ and ‘citizenship’. Firstly, the chapter argues that the rapid increase in the use of ‘new surveillance’ technologies has been driven by wider global trends which pre-date the ‘war on terror’. Secondly, it shows that following the attacks on September 11 in the United States these developments have intensified as the ‘rush to surveillance’ has become a ‘global’ phenomenon (see Ball and Webster, 2003; Lyon, 2003a). Thirdly, the chapter draws upon theoretical debates on ‘panopticism’ and ‘postpanopticism’ to argue that the rush to a ‘technological fix’ may not have the desired effects in terms of preventing ‘global terrorism’. Finally, the chapter goes on to show how the ‘globalisation’ of surveillance may have serious unintended consequences which threaten civil liberties and community cohesion. SURVEILLANCE BEFORE SEPTEMBER 11 It has become a commonplace that following the attacks in the US on September 11 2001, ‘everything changed’. Exceptional circumstances, it is argued, call for exceptional measures, hence the rapid introduction of new legislation (for example, The Patriot Act), new practices (for example, detention without trial), and the deployment of ‘new surveillance’ technologies (CCTV, biometrics, message interception, data mining, etc.). However, the rapid introduction of new legislation and surveillance practices in response to ‘terror’ is not an entirely new phenomenon. Consider the UK reaction to the Feinian bombings in 1883, for example, when Parliament introduced the Explosive Substances Act, or the introduction of new legislation and...

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