securitypolitics

This will be the decade of the social network, and social networks have become a focus of security politics. It is not that social networks are a security threat – nothing so crude. And it is not as simple as governments wishing to spy on you. The security interest in social networks is subtler. It challenges how we think about security and privacy.

When you interact in an online social network like Facebook or Twitter, you create a web of links with other people. Combine this with information on your searches, the sites you visit, and the things you ‘like’ and ‘follow’, and the result is a revealing picture of an individual. However, security is not interested in the individual, at least not in the first instance. It is interested in networks. It is not who you are, but how you are networked.

Security agencies have realised that an individual…

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securitypolitics

British security politics last week descended into farce. The lawyers of radical cleric Abu Qatada lodged an appeal against his deportation to Jordan an hour before a deadline set by the European court of human rights. The Home Office had thought the deadline passed the day before. They now face having to release him on bail while his case goes back to Strasbourg. The row made a fool of Teresa May, the home secretary.

Many different political games are in play here. The quarrel played out in parliament was mere surface. Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, made hay. By tabling an urgent parliamentary question, she forced May back in front of MPs to explain herself and her department. Cooper subjected May to a theatrical drubbing, casting herself as tougher on terror than her weak and incompetent opponent.

Cooper’s attacks are cynical, but they also needle away at tensions in…

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securitypolitics

Independent Scotland at risk from terrorism, Theresa May claims | Politics | The Guardian.

At the Scottish Conservative conference in March, Theresa May, the home secretary, suggested that an independent Scotland would be more at risk from terrorism. She said that as an independent state Scotland would not benefit from the protection of the UK security and border agencies.

Is she right? Security is all about risk and uncertainty. True facts are hard to come by, especially about the future. When will the next terrorist attack occur? Who will commit it? What will be its target? No one can be sure. So how can Scottish politicians counter May’s claim?

The home secretary has the whip hand in this argument. MI5, the UK Border Agency and the police answer to her. She has a strong claim to have better security knowledge than most. In a realm of uncertainty, knowledge is power…

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