Surveillance, Trust and Democracy
Melbourne Law School
Lecture Theatre G08
185 Pelham Street
Carlton VIC 3053
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Current surveillance practices erode trusting relationships that are a basic requirement for society itself. In the 21st century, surveillance expands and intensifies into a very complex global phenomenon, not limited to policing and national security. Data analytics and artificial intelligence (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.