Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 43–49 | Cite as

Surveillance and persuasion

  • Michael Nagenborg
Original Paper


This paper is as much about surveillance as about persuasive technologies (PTs). With regard to PTs it raises the question about the ethical limits of persuasion. It will be argued that even some forms of self-imposed persuasive soft surveillance technologies may be considered unethical. Therefore, the ethical evaluation of surveillance technologies should not be limited to privacy issues. While it will also be argued that PTs may become instrumental in pre-commitment strategies, it will also be demonstrated that the use of persuasive surveillance technologies in order to influence the users to become more compliant, to get their consent more easily or making it harder to opt out of the system does give rise to ethical issues.


Surveillance Privacy Persuasive technologies Behavioral change Freedom 



This paper is based on my research within the project “Security, perceptions, reports, conditions and expectations—Monitoring Security in Germany” (BaSiD). The project was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany (Security Research—Research for Civil Security). Parts of the paper are based on an earlier German paper (Nagenborg 2010).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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