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Surveillance, Politics and Civil Society


Panel Discussion


Surveillance has become a topic of central importance for citizens, academics and governments alike as new space-time transcending monitoring technologies flood the market, pre-emptive, at-a-distance governance becomes the new logic of contemporary institutions, organisations seek to streamline and better administer their everyday practices, individuals perform and search for meaning within the spaces created by surveillance processes and the world becomes overlaid by a dense series of increasingly interconnected electronic flows. Several important questions are raised by these developments: how, for example, should relations between citizen and state, citizen and commerce and among citizens themselves be understood? In what ways might Human Rights principles be threatened by global flows and exchanges of data? How are concepts like personhood, identity, trust and privacy being transformed and shaped through surveillant practices? How might such developments be challenged and struggled over? What implications does national security policy have for individually situated notions of human security?
‘Surveillance, Politics and Civil Society’ seeks to address such questions by drawing on the views of a number of high profile, expert speakers and input from members of the audience. In particular, the session will explore what the role of civil society should and can be in regulating surveillance growth and expansion. Topics of debate will include: whether or not the state has become more authoritarian via its data collection practices and activities; what issues are raised by surveillance cultures embedding themselves into the everyday fabric of social life and social organisation; whether there are constitutional tools available to citizens to challenge surveillance protocols and processes, and a host of other related subject matter.  The event will be followed by a short wine reception, kindly sponsored by the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism, City University London.
The assembled panel has a wealth of experience in relation to the everyday politics of surveillance, each researching, campaigning or writing about the social implications of surveillance cultures:
Shami Chakrabarti has been Director of Liberty (The National Council for Civil Liberties) since September 2003. Shami first joined Liberty as In-House Counsel on 10 September 2001. She became heavily involved in its engagement with the “War on Terror” and with the defence and promotion of human rights values in Parliament, the Courts and wider society. A Barrister by background, she was called to the Bar in 1994 and worked as a lawyer in the Home Office from 1996 until 2001 for Governments of both persuasions. Since becoming Liberty’s Director she has written, spoken and broadcast widely on the importance of the post-WW2 human rights framework as an essential component of democratic society. She is Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, a Governor of the London School of Economics and the British Film Institute, and a Visiting Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford and a Master of the Bench of Middle Temple.
Professor Clive Norris is a key scholarly figure in the sociology of surveillance, publishing widely, actively contributing to policy debates, being awarded a variety of research grants and helping to found and establish the interdisciplinary journal Surveillance and Society and the Surveillance Studies Network (SSN). For the last decade, Clive's research has involved documenting and analysing the increased use of surveillance in contemporary society. In particular, he has focused on the police use of informants, CCTV surveillance, and surveillance in the criminal justice system more broadly. He is and has been involved in numerous national and international collaborations. The publication of the SSN report on the Surveillance Society (Clive being a joint author) led to massive international media coverage on issues of surveillance, and heralded a major debate in the UK. In particular two select committees took as their starting point the report, the House of Lords Select committee on the Constitution, which launched an inquiry into `Surveillance Citizens and the State, and the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee inquiry into `A Surveillance Society?´ In addition, Clive has advised the American Department of Homeland Security, on the policy implications of CCTV, and most recently has written a review of CCTV and Crime Prevention for the European Parliament´s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee.
Anna Minton is a writer and journalist. She has worked as a foreign correspondent, business reporter and social affairs writer and is the winner of five national journalism awards. After a decade in journalism, including a stint on The Financial Times, she began to focus on longer projects for think tanks and policy organisations. She is the author of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's Viewpoint on fear and distrust, a member of the writers' panel for the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and an associate of the consultancy, The Placeteam. She is a frequent conference speaker and is invited to speak to a wide range of audiences, from art Bienales to policemen. She appears regularly on television and radio and is a contributor to The Guardian. She has written reports for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Demos, Shelter and has contributed to publications by The Young Foundation and The Smith Institute. She is the author of the highly acclaimed text, 'Ground Control.
David Mery is a London-based independent writer and technologist. He recently researched, campaigned and wrote on civil and human rights issues such as stop and search, the National DNA Database and the use of secret evidence. Having been unlawfully arrested one evening in 2005, he tenaciously fought for his rights and eventually receiving an apology from the Metropolitan Police Service and his police records deleted. He used tools such as the Freedom of Information and Data Protection acts to discover much information about the laws, guidance, tactics and police powers used against too many innocents. He has helped others get their details removed from the National DNA Database and has became an active supporter of organisations resisting the broader assault on civil and human rights such as the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities, the Coalition Against Secret Evidence, and his local No2ID group. Articles by David have appeared in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Register, Red Pepper, EXE Magazine, What Personal Computer, PC Expert and on his website David has appeared on national British and Greek television channels and on British and Australian national and independent radio stations.

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When & where

12.00am - 12.00amThursday 15th April 2010