Crowdfunded Journalism

The Haystack

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Scenes of ReasonLondon, UK.
The Haystack
An exclusive documentary on the use of surveillance in the UK and the Investigatory Powers Bill.

Edward Snowden during his revelations stated that, “GCHQ has some of the most extensive surveillance powers in the world.”


We weren’t until we needed to research how people were able to freely move from the UK to Syria in order to join ISIS. A member of our team who was doing the research landed on a blog from a Jihadi bride and began to read what was documented. Shortly after she realised she had been logged out of Facebook and couldn’t get back on for 10 minutes. Were we being paranoid, or in that moment did we just place our organisation on a list?

As members of a digital news startup (Scenes of Reason), it is imperative that we have the intellectual curiosity to research and investigate what we feel necessary. SoR was created to decode politics and current affairs for millennials. The development of the proposed Snoopers’ Charter, now reincarnated as the Investigatory Powers Bill was and is of particular interest to us. 


We’re young journalists, and our audience is young and digitally led. We therefore have a responsibility to report exactly what this proposed Bill means for us as avid technology users and break down the associated technical jargon. Do we have anything to worry about? Is this really just about catching terrorists?

So the Scenes of Reason team, four young women in their twenties working both in front of and behind the camera would like to introduce you to the THE HAYSTACK. With exclusive access to some of the most high-profile players in the surveillance space, we have and will continue to investigate the workings of intelligence agencies in the wake of the Snowden revelations, and in the midst of debate on the groundbreaking Investigatory Powers Bill.

Olivia Cappuccini, founder of Scenes of Reason, comments; 

“Not only is it important for us to reignite the conversation around surveillance powers, but to engage millennials who share every inch of their lives digitally. More importantly, it is a project that in order to remain independent, must and should be funded by the public.”

Scenes of Reason has been closely following the draft IP Bill and the Draft Communications Bill formerly known as the Snoopers’ Charter. Olivia goes on to state;

“Given the heightened and seemingly imminent terrorist threat this country faces, the government are acting fast to implement any means necessary to protect us, and that includes increasing and legalising surveillance powers. It is just as important that we act equally fast when it comes to understanding these powers and how they will affect us, THE HAYSTACK will provide just that.”

Who have we sat down with so far?

Sir David Omand, Ex Director of GCHQ
William Binney, Ex NSA, dubbed the original whistleblower to Snowden's revelations.
Paul Bernal, Expert in privacy law and lecturer at UAE Law School,.
Johnny Mercer, Conservative MP.
Carl Miller, Researcher at Demos.
Jason Parkinson, Video Journalist and victim of surveillance
Mary Fitzgerald editor in chief, openDemocracy.
Kat Craig, Legal Director of the Abuses in Counter-Terrorism, Reprieve. 
Harmit Kambo, Privacy International.
Renate Samson, Chief Executive, Big Brother Watch. 
David Wells, Ex GCHQ. 

Who we are interested in speaking to:

People who have been directly or personally affected by surveillance. 


Without you we won’t be able to create this real life investigation that’s both timely and vital to help decode and understand what surveillance actually means. Your money will goes towards the production costs of this documentary, run by the Scenes of Reason team.  

We want to share this journey with you. Collaboration lies at the heart of Scenes of Reason and we want to use use Byline to create a community of people who are interested in surveillance, would like to be part of the making of the documentary, and will continue these discussions once it has been released (Tuesday April 26th).


#Surveillance, #Investigatory Powers Bill, #GCHQ, #Intelligence Agency, #Privacy, #Security

Risks and Challenges

The government might shut this all down if they don't like what we uncover ;/


Stuart Coates

4 years ago

You should try to speak to Adrian Kennard (@TheRealRevK) who runs the ISP A&A and has given evidence to the committees discussing this bill. He can give you the opinions from an ISP's viewpoint who are being asked to perform some of this surveillance.

Annette Gartland

4 years ago

Hi, Great project, but I was a little surprised and sad to see the reference "our audience is young". There must be plenty of older people (I'm 61), and especially journalists like myself, who would be very interested in this investigation. Best, Annette

Scenes of Reason

4 years ago

Hi Annette,
Thanks so much for your support. In response to your comment, the majority of our current audience is young and appear to be the least engaged with the IP Bill (yet spend the most amount of their time online) - we most certainly hope that this will be of interest to everyone but that was our reasoning for starting this investigation. Will look forward to having you involved in the project and hope that you will share what we are doing. Thanks again. Best, Olivia