Digitally Mediated Surveillance (IRSP II)

IRSP II: Digitally Mediated Surveillance: From the Internet to Ubiquitous Computing (Team Leaders: Andrew Clement, University of Toronto, and Colin Bennett, University of Victoria)

Questions concerning digitally mediated surveillance (cyber-surveillance) have tended to be debated in an episodic manner according to the latest controversies concerning the particular practices of governments and online companies. It is now over ten years since the advent of the World Wide Web, and of widespread use of the internet for electronic commerce, electronic government and social networking. The impending emergence of the ‘internet of things’ promises (or threatens) to further insinuate digital surveillance capabilities into the fabric of daily life. Media alarmists have fuelled a general popular understanding that one’s life is an open book when one goes online, making one increasingly subject to unwelcome intrusions. The reality is more complex and contingent on a variety of technological, institutional, legal and cultural factors. The aim of this IRSP is to better understand and critique digitally mediated surveillance practices in the context of the wider theoretical and empirical literature on surveillance. Towards that end it will pursue several broad questions:

1. Does the increasing digital mediation of everyday activities contribute to extending the scope, scale and intensity of surveillance and consequent interventions in people’s lives?

2. What meanings does the increasing digital mediation of everyday activities hold for people?

3. What are the implications of increasing digital mediation of everyday activities for the oversight and accountability of surveillance practices?

4. What sites, moments and players constructively engage with the development and operation of digitally mediated surveillance practices, to make them more effective, safe and democratically governable?

Research into these questions will proceed in a variety of ways that concentrate on how surveillance subjects experience these phenomena.

The research workshop Cyber-Surveillance in Everyday Life is an outcome of IRSP I.

Visit the Digitally Mediated Surveillance website.

Working Paper I:

Deep Packet Inspection in Perspective: Tracing its lineage and surveillance Potentials By Christopher Parsons

Video: IRSP 2 presentation: Digital media surveillance: from the internet to ubiquitous computing in different countries

(large file - 34.5MB, click link to stream video or for slower connections (PC) right click to select 'Save Target As..." or (Mac) CTRL+click to select "Download linked file")

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