The Unshaken Role of GCHQ

The British Cybersecurity Discourse After the Snowden Revelations
  • Stefan Steiger


Extensive surveillance practices that were revealed by Edward Snowden sparked debates about appropriate state behavior in cyberspace. The governments of the US and UK faced harsh criticism following the first revelations in June 2013. Disclosed documents and statements from Edward Snowden suggested that the British GCHQ acted even less restrained than its American counterpart. Those developments nevertheless didn’t lead to more limitations of surveillance capabilities in Britain. Quite the contrary, the Government legalised some of the revealed practices with the Investigatory Powers Act. This chapter therefore addresses the following question: how was it possible for GCHQ’s surveillance practices to remain stable after the Snowden revelations? In order to answer this question a role theoretical analysis of the domestic processes of role contestation and role stabilisation is conducted. It is argued that the continuity of surveillance practices is best understood by looking at the historical experiences the Britons have made with their intelligence agencies.


Foreign Policy Intelligence Agency Historical Experience Role Conception National Security Agency 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Heidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany

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