Surveillance, Trust and Democracy - Professor David Lyon

Surveillance, Trust and Democracy - Professor David Lyon

Surveillance practices, often suspicious or clandestine, contrast with trusting relationships. In the twenty-first century, surveillance has expanded and intensified into a very complex global phenomenon, involving major corporate activity as well as policing and national security. Data analytics and AI have become commonplace in each form. Corporate surveillance is 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. Trust is tangled and eroded in expanding ways, and with it, democracy, which depends on trust. Key factors are 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 is Director, Surveillance Studies Centre, Queen’s Research Chair in Surveillance Studies, Professor of Sociology and of Law at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.

He has contributed to Surveillance Studies, Social Theory and Sociology of Religion and has directed a number of large-scale multi-disciplinary research projects since 1996, totalling almost $8 million, mainly from SSHRC. The current collaborative project is Big Data Surveillance (2015-2020).

He has authored or edited 29 books and published many articles. The books have been translated into 18 languages and articles more. The Culture of Surveillance: Watching as a Way of Life (2018) is his latest book, following Surveillance after Snowden (2015). In 2014 Transparent Lives: Surveillance in Canada / Vivre à nu: la surveillance au Canada (ed. Lyon et al) was published.  Liquid Surveillance, co-authored with Zygmunt Bauman, came out in 2013. Recent sole-authored books are Identifying Citizens: ID Cards as Surveillance (2009) and Surveillance Studies: An Overview (2007). Co-edited collections include the Handbook of Surveillance Studies with Kirstie Ball and Kevin Haggerty (2012) Eyes Everywhere: The Global Growth of Camera Surveillance with Aaron Doyle and Randy Lippert (2011), Surveillance, Privacy and the Globalization of Personal Information (with Elia Zureik and others, 2010), Surveillance and Control in Israel/Palestine: Population, Territory, Power (with Elia Zureik and Yasmeen-Abu-Laban 2010) and Playing the Identity Card (with Colin Bennett, 2008). Current book-writing projects include Surveillance: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford). Professor Lyon is on the international editorial boards of several journals, was North American editor of Surveillance & Society, and is Associate Editor, The Information Society.

He has been awarded the following honours: Killam Research Fellowship from the Canada Council (2008-2010); Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sociological Association, Communication and Information Technology Section 2007; Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada 2008; Outstanding Contribution Award from the Canadian Sociological Association 2012; Academy of Social Sciences, UK 2013; Insight-Impact Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada 2015; Honorary doctorate from the Università della Svizzera Italiana 2016; Queen’s University Award for Excellence Graduate Supervision 2017; international Surveillance Studies Network Distinguished Contribution Award in Aarhus, Denmark, 2018.

Attendees must register to attend.

Date & time

Thu 14 Mar 2019, 6–7.30pm


Sir Rowland Wilson Building Theatrette, Address: 120 McCoy Circuit, Acton ACT 2601


Professor David Lyon


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