If the Al-Qaeda terrorists who attacked the United States in 2001 wanted to weaken the West, they achieved their mission by striking a blow at the heart of democracy.
Since 9/11 governments including those of the USA, the UK, France and Australia have introduced tough, intimidating legislation to discourage the legitimate activities of a probing press, so greatly needed after the Iraq War proved that executive government could not be trusted.
Often hiding behind arguments about defending national security and fighting the war on terror, governments criminalised legitimate journalistic work, ramping up their attacks on journalists’ sources, and the whistle-blowers who are so essential in keeping governments honest.
Through detailed research and analysis, this book, which includes interviews with leading figures in the field, including Edward Snowden, explains how mass surveillance and anti-terror laws are of questionable value in defeating terrorism, but have had a ‘chilling effect’ on one of the foundations of democracy: revelatory journalism.
Ironies abound in this disturbing analysis of how western governments are clamping down on media freedoms and using dragnet surveillance to amass data on every one of us. Andrew Fowler neatly summarises, "New laws are now being shaped, both in the US and elsewhere, to make illegal that which had been normal journalistic practice; to make legal the activities of intelligence agencies which had previously been outlawed" Perhaps the biggest irony is the role played by right-wing elements of the media who endorse these draconian invasions of privacy and restrictions on freedom of expression in the name of national security. Fowler convincingly argues that journalism that speaks truth to power and democracy itself could be imperilled if we allow our governments free rein to stifle signs of dissent.
The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, June 2018
Introduction: Welcome to the Machine
This challenging new book series explores the way governments since 9/11 from across the political spectrum intensified their efforts to criminalize both traditional and new forms of digital political dissent. The series will features major contributions from the social sciences, law and legal studies, media studies and philosophy to document what happens when governments choose to regard activists campaigning for increased government transparency and accountability, environmental sustainability, social justice, human rights and pro-democracy as engaging in illegal activities.
The book series explores the legal, political and ethical implications when governments engage habitually in mass electronic and digital surveillance, outlaw freedom of movement real and virtual public assembly and prosecute digital activists. The books in this series are a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in the future of democracy.