Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 171–180 | Cite as

Facing the future: Seeking ethics for everyday surveillance

  • David Lyon


Surveillance has become a routine, everyday occurrence in informational societies. Many agencies have an interest in personal data, and a wide spectrum of them use searchable databases to classify and catalogue such data. From policing to welfare to the Internet and e-commerce, personal data have become very valuable, economically and administratively. While questions of privacy are indeed raised by such surveillance, the processes described here have as much to do with social sorting, and thus present new problems of automated categorization of data subjects. Privacy and data protection measures do address some of the questions raised, but they tend to be limited to individualistic readings of the situation, and not to consider issues of fairness and equality. An ethics for everyday surveillance is proposed that considers personhood as central, but highlights its social and embodied dimensions. Reductionism of practice and of analysis is thus avoided as the face comes to the fore. Hence the title.


Information System User Interface Wide Spectrum Personal Data Protection Measure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Lyon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyQueen's UniversityKingstonCanada

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