The Politics of Surveillance Project is a multidisciplinary research initiative that explores how scholar-activist collaborations can combat the surveillance apparatus. This project builds upon the the New Transparency Project, which addresses how surveillance is experienced as an everyday reality. This reality is brought about through growing computer dependence and reliance on personal data collection and processing by private and public institutions, and often manifest through heightened public concern about security.

The key project members associated with this website – Colin J. BennettAndrew Clement, and Jonathan Obar – are exploring the digital aspects of contemporary transparencies.

Colin J. Bennett

Political Science, University of Victoria, Canada

Colin’s research has focused on the comparative analysis of surveillance technologies and privacy protection policies at the domestic and international levels.

Colin has completed policy reports on privacy protection for the Canadian government, the Canadian Standards Association, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the European Commission, and the UK Information Commissioner. He has recently completed projects on the subject of “privacy advocacy” in Western societies, as well as on the politics of identity cards, and is currently exploring social networking and privacy. This latest project is intended to determine how the expectations of social networking websites and environments, whose raison d’etre is the facilitation of the sharing of personal information about users, can be reconciled with prevailing understandings about “reasonable expectations of privacy” and existing domestic and international regimes that are designed to protect personal data.

In addition to numerous scholarly and newspaper articles, he has published three books: Regulating Privacy: Data Protection and Public Policy in Europe and the United States (Cornell University Press, 1992); Visions of Privacy: Policy Choices for the Digital Age (University of Toronto Press, 1999, with Rebecca Grant); The Governance of Privacy: Policy Instruments in Global Perspective (The MIT Press, 2006 with Charles Raab); Privacy Advocates: Resisting the Spread of Surveillance (MIT Press, 2008).

Back to top

Andrew Clement

Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto

Andrew Clement’s research, teaching and consulting interests are in the social implications of information technology and human-centred systems development. He has written papers and co-edited books in such areas as: computer supported cooperative work; participatory design; workplace surveillance; privacy; women, work and computerization; end user computing; and the ‘information society’ more generally. His recent research has focused on public information policy, Internet use in everyday life, digital identity constructions, public participation in information/communication infrastructures development, and community networking.

Back to top

Jonathan Obar

Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto

Jonathan Obar is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. He also holds appointments at Michigan State University as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media and as Associate Director of the Quello Center for Telecommunication Management and Law. Dr. Obar also holds a Public Policy Teaching Fellowship with the Wikimedia Foundation, and is a Media Policy Fellow with the New America Foundation.

His research focuses on the impact that digital technologies have on civil liberties, civic engagement and the inclusiveness of public culture. His research has been published in a variety of academic journals including:Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Communication Law and Policy, Communication Review, E-learning and Digital Media, Information Policy, Journalism Studies, Academic Exchange Quarterly, the Free Speech Yearbook, Harvard’s Program on Information Resources Policy and the proceedings of the ACM’sComputer-Supported Cooperative Work Conference.

Current work includes the Quello Center’s Governance of Social Media project, participation in the Open Society Foundation’s 60+ country Mapping Digital Media initiative, and the implementation and analysis of the SurveillanceWatch and IXmaps counter-surveillance crowdsourcing apps with the ‘Politics of Surveillance’ team.

Back to top