Taking the spy machine south: Communications surveillance in sub-Saharan Africa

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10 Citations (Scopus)


In 2013, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden collaborated with journalists to leak documents on the NSA’s spying activities. The NSA is a United States (US) governmental agency responsible for the collection of signals intelligence, or intelligence gleaned from the surveillance of electronics networks (Gill & Phythian, 2012, pp. 79-101). The leaks revealed that the NSA was intercepting the communications of millions of innocent citizens in the USA and elsewhere, through various surveillance programmes. These widespread abuses of citizens’ right to privacy occurred in spite of the fact that the NSA was meant to use programmatic surveillance only to collect evidence of serious crimes or terrorism, which are almost universally considered to be legitimate grounds for surveillance. The documents also showed that the NSA collaborated extensively with other governmental spy agencies, especially those that form part of the ‘Five Eyes’ group of countries. The ‘Five Eyes’ refers to a coalition of countries co-operating with one another to fight terrorism and other national security threats, and includes the USA, the United Kingdom (UK), Australia, New Zealand and Canada (Privacy International, n.d.-b). The Snowden revelations caused widespread outrage, with communications users in many countries protesting against violations of their rights and freedoms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Media and Communication Research in Africa
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783319704432
ISBN (Print)9783319704425
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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