Call for Cyber-Surveillance Annotated Bibliographies

The New Transparency Project, as part of its international cyber-surveillance workshop, is issuing a call for annotated bibliographies around issues pertinent to their workshop. Again, given that issues concerning cyber-surveillance likely resonate with readers of this space, I wanted to alert you to this call. These bibliographies are meant to serve as a resource for those attending the May 12-15 workshop in 2011 at the University of Toronto. The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2010. Such submissions should be a maximum length of 500 words, and acceptance notifications will be issued by September 30, 2010. The authors (at least three) invited to prepare annotated bibliographies will each be paid $2000 (Cnd.) in two equal instalments. The first upon acceptance of the assignment, and the balance upon the bibliography’s satisfactory completion. The full call follows below:

Digitally Mediated Surveillance: From the Internet to Ubiquitous Computing

Digitally mediated surveillance (cyber-surveillance) is a growing and increasingly controversial aspect of every-day life in ‘advanced’ societies. Governments, corporations and even individuals are deploying digital techniques as diverse as social networking, video analytics, data-mining, wireless packet sniffing, RFID skimming, yet relatively little is known about actual practices and their implications. It is now over 15 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 fueled 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.

In an effort to better understand and critique cyber-surveillance practices in the context of the wider theoretical and empirical literature on surveillance, we seek annotated bibliographies exploring a number of key topics, including:

  • social networking (practices & platforms)
  • search engines
  • behavioural advertising/targeted marketing
  • monitoring and analysis techniques (facial recognition, RFID, video
  • analytics, data mining)
  • Internet surveillance (deep packet inspection, backbone intercepts)
    resistance (actors, practices, technologies)

Each annotated bibliography will be 5000 words, and contain about 20 entries of 100-250 words in length. Entries will reflect both canonical and emergent debates and references. Bibliographies will include a clearly stated aim, an introduction with a preliminary discussion of the field. An example may be found here. They will be posted in web-friendly formatting for sharing widely among research and advocacy networks.

Completed bibliographies will serve as a resource for participants in the Cyber-Surveillance in Everyday Life International Workshop, hosted at the University of Toronto, May 12-15, 2011, and be publicly available via The New Transparency: Surveillance and Social Sorting website.

Annotated bibliographies will be guided by a subset of questions that inform the Cyber-Surveillance in Everyday Life Workshop, including:

  1. We regularly hear about ‘cyber-surveillance’, ‘cyber-security’, and ‘cyber-threats’. What constitutes cyber-surveillance, and what are the empirical and theoretical difficulties in establishing a practical understanding of cyber-surveillance? Is the enterprise of developing a definition useful, or condemned to analytic confusion?
  2. What are the motives and strategies of key DMS actors (e.g. surveillance equipment/systems/ strategy/”solutions” providers; police/law enforcement/security agencies; data aggregation brokers; digital infrastructure providers); oversight/regulatory/data protection agencies; civil society organizations, and user/citizens?
  3. What are the relationships among key DMS actors (e.g. between social networking site providers)? Between marketers (e.g. Facebook and DoubleClick)? Between digital infrastructure providers and law enforcement (e.g. lawful access)?
  4. What business models are enterprises pursuing that promote DMS in a variety of areas, including social networking, location tracking, ID’d transactions etc. What can we expect of DMS in the coming years? What new risks and opportunities are likely?
  5. What do people know about the DMS practices and risks they are exposed to in everyday life? What are people’s attitudes to these practices and risks?
  6. What are the politics of DMS; who is active? What are their primary interests, what are the possible lines of contention and prospective alliances? What are the promising intervention points and alliances that can promote a more democratically accountable surveillance?
  7. What is the relationship between DMS and privacy? Are privacy policies legitimating DMS? Is a re-evaluation of traditional information privacy principles required in light of new and emergent online practices, such as social networking and others?
  8. Do deep packet inspection and other surveillance techniques and practices of internet service providers (ISP) threaten personal privacy?
  9. How do new technical configurations promote surveillance and challenge privacy? For example, do cloud computing applications pose a greater threat to personal privacy than the client/server model? How do mobile devices and geo-location promote surveillance of individuals?
  10. How do the multiple jurisdictions of internet data storage and exchange affect the application of national/international data protection laws?
  11. What is the role of advocacy/activist movements in challenging cyber-surveillance?

Those interested should submit a one page word (500 words max) proposal and initial working bibliography for the chosen area.

Successful proposals will demonstrate a familiarity with the relevant literatures and issues, and clear relation to a specified sub-set of the key topics and guiding questions listed above. The deadline for submissions is September 15 and acceptance notifications will be sent September 30, 2010. The deadline for completed annotated bibliographies is December 31, 2010.

The authors (at least three) invited to prepare annotated bibliographies will each be paid CA$2000, in two equal installments—the first upon acceptance of the assignment, and the balance upon satisfactory completion.

Selected authors will also be invited to participate in the Cyber-Surveillance in Everyday Life Workshop at the University of Toronto May 12-15, 2011, with the possibility of their expenses being covered.

For further information, please contact: