Christopher Campbell, Rosamunde van Brakel

Privacy as a line of flight in societies of mass surveillance

This paper restates notions of privacy in societies that are subject to mass surveillance. The main purpose of this paper is to reframe the protection of privacy as an ethically driven line of flight that constitutes democracy by enabling accountability, resistance, and freedom of speech: privacy has agency, and it simultaneously protects individuals and their ability to deterritorialise democratic structures. Although many people will not be explicitly involved in challenging power structures, privacy is an emergent property that must necessarily fall like a blanket across all citizens: privacy cannot be considered solely in the context of individual privacy.

Keywords: privacy, mass surveillance, assemblage, democracy, resistance, accountability


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Note on the contributor

Chris Campbell is a researcher and PhD candidate at the Centre for Research in Information, Surveillance and Privacy at the University of Stirling. He is finalising his research into Assemblages of Surveillance and Policy: Protest and Public Order in the United Kingdom 2010-2015. Previous conference papers include: Webster, W. and Campbell, C. (2014) The coalescent state: Assemblages of public policy and surveillance to the Surveillance Studies Network, and Campbell, C. (2014) Big data and the policy of crime: predictive analytics in a mass surveillance society to the RESPECT 2nd Policy Workshop on Technology and Crime: Law, Privacy and Policy in the Era of Big Data.

Rosamunde van Brakel is a researcher and PhD candidate at the LSTS and CRiS research groups at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel who is finalising her doctoral dissertation in criminology, Taming the future? A rhizomatic analysis of preemptive surveillance of children and its consequences. She is associate-member representative of the Surveillance Studies Network, executive director of the NGO Privacy Salon and daily coordinator and CFO of the annual international conference Computers, Privacy and Data Protection in Brussels. Main publications include Boersma, K., van Brakel, R., Fonio, C. and Wagenaar, P. (2014) Histories of state surveillance in Europe and beyond, London, Routledge; van Brakel, R. and De Hert, P. (2011) Policing, surveillance and law in a pre-crime society: Understanding the consequences of technology based strategies, Journal of Police Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3 pp 163-192 and Martin A.K., van Brakel, R. E. and Bernhard, D. J. (2009) Understanding resistance to digital surveillance: Towards a multi-disciplinary, multi-actor framework, Surveillance and Society, Vol. 6, No. 3 pp 213-232.