Ben Hayes Associate

Our people — Associate

Ben is a founding director of AWO, a ‘data rights agency’. He has  collaborated with TNI since the late 2000s on issues related to international security, counterterrorism, surveillance, human rights, civil liberties and civic space.

Ben Hayes

Contact Ben Hayes

AWO is comprised of a UK law firm (which undertakes data rights advisory work and litigation, including cases involving ‘big-tech’, government and new technologies such as facial recognition), a European public policy team (which works with value-aligned organisations to shape EU and national technology and data-related legislation) and an international consultancy which helps public interest and other actors meet their data protection obligations and improve their data governance.

Ben has previously worked for the UN High Commission for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Peace Research Institute Oslo, the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, the Funders Initiative for Civil Society, the Human Security Collective, Statewatch and many others.

Ben’s work with TNI includes investigation into the European security-industrial complex, NeoConOpticon (TNI/Statewatch, 2009) which catalysed widespread investigations and reform of EU security research policy. TNI also published Ben's report on counter-terrorism, money laundering and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which showed how international obligations on states to combat potential terrorist financing by non-profit organisations were being used as a pretext by many repressive states to unduly restrict and control the activities of NGOs and charities. This study led to widespread scrutiny of the issue, structured engagement with the FATF by the non-profit sector and ongoing reform of the FATF requirements in this area.

Ben also co-edited The Secure and the Dispossessed – How the Military and Corporations are Shaping a Climate-Changed World  (TNI/Pluto, 2015) which explores the implications of framing climate change in security rather than environmental justice terms. In 2017, as part of a TNI convened effort, he wrote up a critical, and subsequently influential, framing of the emerging NGO discourse on ‘Shrinking Space’, which put the focus squarely on the social movement activists facing the brunt of growing authoritarianism. He later co-authored ‘Rethinking civic space in an age of intersectional crises’ with Poonam Joshi (FICS, 2020). In the field of counterterrorism Ben co-authored The Globalisation of Countering Violent Extremism (TNI, 2018), which drew attention to the export of Europe’s model of surveillance of non-violent, political and religious activities on which CVE strategies are based, and Leaving the War on Terror (TNI, 2019), which sets out a progressive alternative to counter-terrorism policy.

Ben holds a BA from Queen Mary’s University and a PhD from the University of Ulster.

Areas of expertise:

Inter/national security, counter-terrorism, migration, border control, technology regulation, human rights and data protection.


Media experience:

Ben is a proficient public speaker and is regularly sought by the media for his expertise. 


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