Surveillance, Trust and Democracy

About the seminar

Current surveillance practices erode trusting relationships that are a basic requirement for society itself. In the C21st, surveillance expands and intensifies into a very complex global phenomenon, not limited to policing and national security. Data analytics and AI have become commonplace surveillance techniques. Surveillance is also corporate, seen both in data-gathering and analysis done by platforms and in outsourcing government administration and services to internet corporations. Ordinary users of platforms are implicated in surveillance in unprecedented ways, as those surveilled and as those who engage with surveillance themselves.

In this context, trust is eroded in expanding ways, and with it, democracy, which depends on trust. The situation is complex, due to the changed conditions of possibility for trust, post-democratic practices of outsourcing and public-private partnerships, and an obsession with new modes of data capture and analysis. Non-values of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, speed and convenience trump human flourishing and the common good. New and different approaches are required to repair trust and recover democracy.

About the presenter

Professor David Lyon FRSC FAcSS, Research Chair in Surveillance Studies and Professor of Sociology and of Law at Queen’s University, is a leading international figure in Surveillance Studies. He is Director of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University, Ontario.

Credited with spearheading the field of “Surveillance Studies”, he has produced a steady stream of books and articles including The Electronic Eye (1994), Surveillance Society (2001), Surveillance after September 11 (2003), Liquid Surveillance (with Zygmunt Bauman, 2013) and Surveillance after Snowden (2015). His most recent book is The Culture of Surveillance (Polity, 2018). David's work has been translated into more than 18 languages.

He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sociological Association, Communication and Information Technology Section and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

This event is a collaboration between the Culture, Media, Economy Program at Monash University, the Institute for International Law and the Humanities and Liquid Architecture.

  • Culture Media Economy (CME) is a research hub at the School of Media Film and Journalism at Monash University. It is led by Professor Justin O'Connor (Director) and Professor Mark Andrejevic (Associate Director).
  • Liquid Architecture (LA) is an Australian organisation for artists working with sound. LA investigates the sounds themselves, but also the ideas communicated about, and the meaning of, sound and listening.
  • The Institute for International Law and the Humanities (IILAH) is a research centre with the Melbourne Law School. IILAH is dedicated to supporting interdisciplinary scholarship on emerging questions of international law, governance and justice, and how the humanities has influenced the way international lawyers understand the world.