Uses of Technologies for Communications Surveillance (UTIC)

The UTIC project looks at the communications surveillance practices of police and intelligence services, in particular in France but also at the European and transatlantic levels. It surveys today's technologies for collecting and analysing communications, the use of these technologies by law enforcement agencies as well as the political and legal controversies they trigger. The goal is to examine the reconfiguration of contemporary surveillance, the way it is redefining the limits of democracy as well as state sovereignty.

To grasp the stakes surrounding communications surveillance, the project's transdisciplinary approach relies on both Engineering Sciences and Social Sciences. The project's supervisors are Didier Bigo at the CERI (Sciences Po Paris), who is also UTIC's coordinator, Sébastien Laurent for CMRP (Bordeaux) and Laurent Bonelli (Paris Ouest Nanterre).

What is UTIC?

The UTIC project is funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR) and will span over four years (2015-2019). The research will unfold in three stages.

1. The first stage is to review today's communications surveillance technologies and the transformations brought about by new computing capacities, integration platforms or Big Data analytics. Are these innovations changing the very nature of surveillance? When data is collected "in bulk" without individualized warrants, can we speak of a "mass surveillance" that threatens the privacy of the whole population, or is it still targeted surveillance to the extent that only part of the collected data is retrieved and analysed? In spite of ongoing controversies and self-assured discourses sparked by the NSA scandal and the information disclosed by Edward Snowden, these crucial questions require a systemic analysis of modern surveillance technologies, as well of their social uses and their legal frameworks.

2. The second stage aims to understand the variations in the relation to technology among and between law enforcement agencies and their respective countries, as well as the justifications underlying surveillance practices. How is the relationship between different agencies structured both by the use of the collected data and the purpose of surveillance? What is the applicable law and the authorizations or recommendations issued at the European, transatlantic and global levels? Different patterns coexist, depending on whether the goal of surveillance is antiterrorism, tackling organized crime or collecting intelligence on the socio-economic situation of an ally country. Actors, operational end-goals as well as norms change depending on the context, and so do justification regimes.

3. The third stage of UTIC studies how national security and its relationship to fundamental rights are transformed both by the global nature of Internet traffic and by the modes of cooperation developed by public and private actors involved in surveillance. Communications surveillance is no longer national and public. Data collection and transfers take place at the transnational scale between different agencies from different countries, with the support of private corporations. In this context, how are alliance systems and power relationships evolving? What is the role of public-private hybridation in this process? What happens to the reason of State when the collection and processing of data takes place on a transnational scale? These are complex questions, since the actors of surveillance have conflicting interests. They also act under the constraint of multiple and sometimes contradictory legal frameworks, which are in turn shaped and mobilized by social movements attached to the protection of fundamental rights.

The team

The UTIC project is carried on by three research teams, each led by one supervisor: Didier Bigo at  CERI (Sciences Po Paris), who is also UTIC's coordinator, Sébastien Laurent for CMRP (University of Bordeaux) and Laurent Bonnelli at ISP (University of Paris Ouest Nanterre).

Center for International Studies - CERI (Sciences Po)

Didier Bigo is senior lecturer at Sciences Po Paris and researcher at the CERI. He is also professor at King's College London's Department of War Studies and director of the Center for the Study of Conflits, Liberty and Security (CCLS). He has managed several European research projects FP5, FP6, FP7 and is a regular contributor to European Parliament reports.

François Thuillier is associate reseacher at Center for the Study of Conflits, Liberty and Security (CCLS), and former head of the Department of Studies and Forecasting of a antiterrorist taskforce (UCLAT) within the Interior Ministry. He has spent his career within the Ministry's specialised services in parallel to its academic activities (IHESI, lecturer at the IEP de Paris, author of many articles on terrorism and intelligence).

Félix Tréguer is research assistant for the UTIC project at the CERI and a PhD candidate at the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences in Paris (CRH-EHESS). His thesis focuses on the legal controversies surrounding freedom of expression online. He is also a founding member and former legal analyst at La Quadrature du Net, an advocacy group defending fundamental rights online.

Montesquieu Center for Political Research - CMRP (University of Bordeaux)

Sébastien Laurent is a professor at the School of Law and Political Science at the University of Bordeaux. He works on intelligence and surveillance policies in France. From 2006 to 2010, he directed the first French research programme on intelligence, the IOIF ANR programme. He is also a member of the editorial board of Intelligence and National Security.

Daniel Ventre is a researcher at the Center of Sociological Research on Law and Penal Institutions (CEDIP-CNRS). He is head of chair in Cyberdefense and Cybersecurity at the military schools of Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan. The scientific activity of the chair is transdisciplinary and focuses on the impact of cybersecurity on the evolution of the armed forces, the legal and ethical questions raised by cyberwarfare as well as issues of territoriality.

Philippe Guillot is lecturer in mathematics at the University of Paris 8 in the "fundamental mathematics and information security" Master. For 13 years, he has directed cryptology laboratories in companies such as Thomson-CSF, Canal-Plus technologies. His work focuses on the conception and assessment of encryption, and on the social impacts of cryptology.

Institute for Social and Political Science - ISP (University of Paris Ouest Nanterre/ENS Cachan)

Laurent Bonelli is lecturer in political science at the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre. He is specialised in surveillance, anti-terrorism as well as urban security. He is co-editor-in-chief of the Cultures & Conflits journal. He is also member of the advisory board of the National Observatory for Deliquency and Penal Responses (ONDRP).

Patrick Garcia Pétin is research assistant for the UTIC project and PhD candidate at the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre. His thesis started in 2011 focuses on intelligence collection in the Brazilian police forces.

Antoine Champagne is a journalist specialised in hacking, network surveillance practices like Deep Packet Inspection and more generally in issues related to personal data.

Jean Paul Hanon is PhD candidate at the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre. He is also Lieutenant-Colonel, researcher and lecturer at the Écoles de Coëtquidan. He holds a degree from the ESM Saint-Cyr and from the Higher Scientific and Technical Military Education (EMSST/Foreign languages and International Relations). His work focuses on cooperation processes between military and police forces, intermediaries, intelligence agencies and representatives from the judiciary. He is also interested in the centralisation of intelligence in the European Union through integration platforms for information and surveillance technologies.


 Events organised by the UTIC team

  • Colloque Surveillance, Oversight, and Human Rights in Counter Terrorism (avec le Queen Mary Criminal Justice Center, Reflection Group on Terrorism and Human Rights), 28-29 November 2016, Paris, Sciences-Po. Keynote address de Nils Muižnieks, Commissaire des droits de l'Homme du Conseil de l'Europe.
  • Colloque « Données et Sécurité », organisé par Daniel Ventre en collaboration avec Telecom ParisTech (prof. Daniel Koffman). 25 mars 2016.
  • Séminaire RESO « Amis et ennemis dans le cyberespace ? Les enjeux de la vie privée et de l’anonymat sur le net », organisé par Didier Bigo à l'école doctorale de Sciences Po. Présentations de Hager ben Jaffel (KCL) « The UK intelligence services and the European Union : what relations ? » ; Mara Wesseling (Centre de Sociologie des Organisations, Sciences-Po/CNRS), « Opening the Black Box: à la rechercheommefonctionspi_srsecsp;: whkgrouiseomn TerrorisFmigencT"traeninP progr;? of.iscuistaace&nbs: Alexs aMarGi reues ttawaRP).e
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  • Cyber Operations in DOD Policy and Plans: Issues for Congress, CRS Report », note de lecture pour le site de la Chaire Cybersécurité & Cyberdéfense, janvier 2015.
  • Communications

    • Félix Tréguer, « Cartographier les controverses post-Snowden : intuitions théoriques et perspectives », Séminaire de recherche du Médialab-SciencesPo, Paris, 4 avril 2017.
    • Sébastien Laurent, « La naissance paradoxale du contrôle parlementaire du renseignement », colloque sur « Le contrôle et l’évaluation de la politique publique du renseignement », organisé par la Délégation parlementaire au renseignement (DPR) et la Commission nationale de contrôle des techniques de renseignement (CNCTR), Assemblée nationale, 22 mars 2017.
    • Félix Tréguer, « Fragments d’une histoire politique du chiffrement », Colloque « Chiffrement, libertés et sécurité » de l’Observatoire des Libertés et du Numériques, Assemblée nationale, Paris, 21 novembre 2016.
    • Félix Tréguer, « Enduring Illegality & the Snowden Paradox: About an Overlooked Provision of the 2015 French Intelligence Act », Digital surveillance and cyber spying: French – German perspective, Maison de la recherche, Université Paris 1, 23 septembre 2016.
    • Félix Tréguer, « Mapping the controversies about surveillance in the digital space »n Professionals: Trajectories, fields dynamics, symbolic capital, CERI-Sciences Po, 14 septembre 2016.
    • Philippe Guillot, « Approche spectrale de la CPA (Correlation Power Analysis) », séminaire « Protection de l'information » du LAGA. 9 juin 2016.
    • Daniel Ventre, chairman du panel « Technological autonomy – a European answer to surveillance », colloque international « Reacting to Surveillance by security agencies in the age of big data – what is the role of the European Union? », Berlin, 13-14 mai 2016.
    • Didier Bigo, « Lessons from Maher Arar case- Laws on Intelligence services-possible reforms », Winnipeg Special plenary session and research meeting, CARFMS 16 Annual Conference, Canada, 11 mai 2016.
    • Didier Bigo, « Transformation des coopérations entre services de renseignement depuis 2013 et les implications pour le contrôle de ces activités », Faculty visiting scholars workshop, University of British Columbia- UBC- Vancouver PA Allards School of Law, Canada, 6 mai 2016.
    • Philippe Guillot, « Sécurité des systèmes cryptographiques embarqués », International Workshop on Cryptography and its Applications, Oran, 26-27 avril 2016
    • 7th Biennial Surveillance & Society Conference, Barcelone. Panel présentant les premiers résultats du groupe RESO issu de la collaboration entre le CERI et l'ISP.  Didier Bigo, « The paradoxical effects of post-Snowden collaboration : analysing the transnational acquisition of data based on the circulation worldwide of data of citizen of other countries in regard to national security debates and imperatives » ; Laurent Bonelli, « Collecting traces, building narratives : Intelligence services and their uses of technologies » ; Félix Tréguer, « From Deep State Illegality to Law of the Land: The Case of Internet Surveillance in France », 22 avril 2016.
    • Daniel Ventre, chairman du panel « Information, désinformation : enjeux et acteurs d’une guerre “hybride” dans le cyber-espace », conférence sur le « data warfare », IHEDN, 13 avril 2016.
    • Didier Bigo, « Reconceptualising boundaries differently from Westphalian model ? The practices of border police, intelligence prevention and military controls : Towards trends of delocalisation and digitisation ? » (keynote), conférence « Coder-décoder les frontières », ULB- Espace Flagey- Bruxelles, 13 avril 2016.
    • Laurent Bonelli (avec Ragazzi F.), « Despite all the high-tech spy toys they have in store... – Digital surveillance and counter-terrorism in France, UK and the United States. », ULB – Bruxelles, conférence « Inside borders / migration control », 15 décembre 2015.
    • Didier Bigo, « Les flux internationaux, l’ordre politique et le changement social », conférence « Policing of:through the flows », Montréal, 13 novembre 2015. (en cours de publication).
    • Didier Bigo, « Critical security studies and intelligence studies » (keynote), conférence à Marburg University Allemagne, 5-6 novembre 2015 (en cours de traduction pour publication en allemand).
    • Didier Bigo, « Les paradoxes de la transnationalisation de la raison d'État », conférence « Surveillance After Snowden », Sciences Po.
    • Laurent Bonelli, « Renseignement, traces et preuves : réflexions sur les logiques de l'antiterrorisme »,
      conférence « Surveillance After Snowden », Sciences Po.
    • Jean-Paul Hanon, « Le BND dans l'architecture de renseignement en Allemagne », conférence « Surveillance After Snowden », Sciences Po.
    • Félix Tréguer, « Dont be evil? Collaboration et résistance à la surveillance chez les acteurs privés de l’économie numérique», conférence « Surveillance After Snowden », Sciences Po.
    • Didier Bigo, « Les guildes transnationales gérant les informations sensibles: privé et public, local, transnational et global » (keynote), Université de Genève, 30 septembre-4 octobre 2015.
    • Philippe Guillot (avec Dravies B. et Millerioux G.), « Security proof of the canonical form of self-synchronizing stream cipher », conférence « Workshop on Cryptography and Coding », avril 2015 (à paraître dans la revue Design, Codes and Cryptography)