Olympic surveillance legacies

David Loukidelis, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia, speaking today at The Surveillance Games workshop, has made it quite clear that his office does not want the Winter Games to leave a legacy of securitization in the city or indeed, fear (as the Assistant Federal Privacy Commissioner, Chantal Bernier, put it), in the consciousness of its residents. In particular he argued that the 600 (yes, 600) cameras that are being installed at the Olympic venues and beyond should not be allowed to remain after the games. I hope that his office is able to deliver on this view, but I doubt that it will. As Kevin Haggerty and Phil Boyle have noted, security architecture is now an actual deliverable of the Olympics, and as many other researchers have shown, such architecture, including in particular CCTV but also adjusted local or national laws on the thematic and spatial limits of protest and freedom of expression (which, as Michael Vonn of the BCCLA and Chris Shaw, a leading anti-games activist, are describing at this very moment in the conference, are themselves often illegal and unconstitutional) tends not only to persist but to act as a kind of Trojan Horse for an expanded surveillance. And as Vonn’s group has also shown – the city is building a permanent CCTV control centre as part of the security architecture for the Games, and you don’t do that for cameras that are going to be removed.

The Surveillance Games

I’ll be off the next few days at ‘The Surveillance Games’ conference in Vancouver.

Coincidentally, the local police have recently announce that they will be buying the same kind of sonic weapons we saw being used against protestors at the Pittsburgh G8 meeting. Except they want us to call them ‘megaphones’ and claim they won’t use them aggressively*. I think we still need to call a weapon a weapon. Just think, with such rebranding the police could get over their recent little problem with tasers too: just call them ‘joy-buzzers’ (just with a whole lot more ‘joy’...). The urban arms race that such mega-events always spark off as manufacturers push their latest toys to anxious governments, of course just adds another layer of bitter irony to the fact that Canada also intends to ignore its own call for global truce during the Games… it seems that you don’t even need the actual gesture for gesture politics these days.

*Even if these devices were just megaphones, this purchase would in any case be rather ironic given that Vancouver city has banned protestors from using any amplification devices by amending their bylaws in July 2009.

Call for Papers: 4th Surveillance & Society Conference, 2010




City University London, UK

April 13 – 15, 2010



Surveillance has become a ubiquitous feature of living in the global north, with citizens routinely monitored by a range of sophisticated technologies. Increasing levels of surveillance are typically justified and legitimated by threats of terrorism, fear of crime and disorder, as info/entertainment tools for the curious and through discourses emphasizing public and private service improvement. In spite of this, little is known about the effect of surveillance on individuals, society, the democratic polity, nation states in the developed and developing world, and the evolving nature of humanity.


This conference calls for papers which examine the many facets of surveillance and globality. In particular, we welcome papers which address:

  • Living in the surveillance age
  • Surveillance, difference and discrimination
  • Attitudes and experiences of the watcher and watched
  • The development and diffusion of surveillance technologies
  • Surveillance technology in practice
  • The political economy of surveillance
  • The business of surveillance
  • The surveillance of consumers and workers
  • Public policy, regulation and surveillance
  • The philosophy of surveillance and philosophical perspectives on surveillance
  • Surveillance, intelligence and war
  • Surveillance, sovereignty and the nation state
  • Surveillance and the production of space


This is a non-residential conference and participants will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation (we will provide advice for this in due course). The Conference will be held in and around the Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre and Foyer, City University London, UK. London is a powerful, global city at the sharp end of surveillance processes, protocols and debates and thus provides delegates with an apt cultural context for the exploration of the above themes.

The conference web site will be up and running from early October 2009 providing full details of the emerging conference programme (i.e. schedule, plenary speakers etc.), maps, accommodation advice, evening dinner information, payment details and an electronic registration form.

The Conference Fee is £200 per person, which includes attendance, refreshments, lunch and an optional £25 two year membership of the Surveillance Studies Network. The membership fee will be used to promote the charitable activities of the Surveillance Studies Network, support the continued publication of the Journal of Surveillance and Society and give other benefits to members.

There will be a formal conference dinner on the evening of April 14th at an additional charge of £50.


If you wish to present a paper, please submit your 300-word abstract and an accompanying set of three keywords to Lisa, the conference administrator, by November 7th 2009 (email: surveillance_conference@live.co.uk) and please also include the following information so that we can contact you:

• Name

• Country of residence

• Institutional affiliation

• Institutional address

• Telephone number

• Email address

• 300-word abstract and list of three keywords

If you are thinking of attending but do not wish to give a paper, please send us the above information clearly stating that you do not wish to present a paper.

There will be two special issues of Surveillance and Society following this conference. The issues will be spaced to allow time for papers in different states of completion at the conference itself, to be submitted – please see the ‘Event Timetable’ section below. When you submit your abstract, please specify whether you intend to submit your paper to one of these issues.


We are hoping to offer ten reduced fee places for postgraduate students wishing to give a paper or present a poster display of their research. If you wish to apply for this, please register our interest as soon a possible and send a 300 word abstract to Lisa (or indicate that you wish to present a poster), the conference administrator by 7th November 2009 (email: surveillance_conference@live.co.uk). Allocation of these strictly limited places will be based on the quality of the abstract/research description submitted and not on a first-come-first-served basis.

If you wish to attend, but do not wish to deliver a paper, please indicate this by the November 7th 2009.



September 3rd – Statement of intent issued

September 28th – Full call for papers issued

October 7th – Website goes live

November 7th – Deadline for the submission of abstracts

November 23rd – Second Call issued – with list of key speakers. Electronic booking form available and formal registration and payment begins

December 18th – Final deadline for the submission of abstracts


March 15th – Deadline for the electronic submission of full papers

March 15th – Final deadline for registration and payment for all conference attendees without late booking surcharge

March 24th – Papers published on Web available to all registered conference delegates

April 13th – 15th – Conference

June 30th – Deadline for submission to Surveillance and Society Conference Special Issue 1

Sept 30th – Deadline for submission to Surveillance and Society Conference Special Issue 2

Dec – Publication of Surveillance and Society Conference Special Issue 1


Feb/March 2011 – Publication of Surveillance and Society Conference Special Issue 2

Please register your interest NOW!

We look forward to hearing from you.


Dr Gavin Smith

Professor Clive Norris

Dr Kirstie Ball

Dr David Murakami Wood

Dr Will Webster

2nd Surveillance in Latin America Symposium

Following the success of the first Surveillance Studies symposium in Brazil last year, here is the call for the next one, this time in Mexico next year.



In modern societies, identification systems have been used as an important mechanism to govern, manage, classify and control populations; in other words, to surveil them. This has meant the employment of certain technologies (passports, national identity letters, RFID, among others), providing interconnected data base systems with information according to specific institutional protocols. In this way, we define identification as visibility and verification of specific details of people’s lives. Likewise, these identification systems have responded to various functions: security, migration control, goods and service administration, as well for territory, space and group access.

The historical, social and politic contexts shape the particular purposes to which each identification system responds. Large-scale surveillance systems to identify the population have been installed in Latin America after decades of colonial, military and single-party governments In addition they have been prompted by increasing multiculturalism in cities, Population growth, migration rates, the perceived rise in terrorism, public security and health risks, as well as the creation of public policies (to aid poverty and unemployment) and globalization.

These conditions have caused the harmonization and articulation of corporations, institutions, technologies and specific protocols for citizen identification in Latin American countries, , depending on each country or region’s particular situation, and its relationship with other regions worldwide. Nevertheless, the Latin American environment allows us to consider the construction of privacy, identities, forms of government and the possibility of resistance policies.

Paper Proposals

In line with this analytic framework, the University of the State of Mexico, Faculty of Politics and Social Studies, hereby invites scholars, analysts and activists in Latin America and worldwide, interested in identification and surveillance, in relation to such matters as cultural or ethnic identities, privacy and data protection, new identification technologies (biometrics, RFID, etc), public policies, security, communication, ethics, law, or modes of critique or resistance; to participate in the International Symposium “Identification, identity and surveillance in Latin America”, by sending a lecture proposal.

Please send an abstract, 300-500 words long, Arial 12, space line 1.5, to the following e-mail: surveillance.studies.mexico@gmail.com, before October 30th 2009. Due to the nature of this event, the abstracts and papers are to be accepted in Spanish, Portuguese and English.

Note: There is no registration fee for this event. All participants are expected to seek their own funding for travel and accommodation. A number of rooms will be reserved with reasonable rates in a nearby hotel. More details to follow.

Main subjects

1. Governmental and corporative policies of identification

2. New technologies for identification and surveillance.

3. Purposes of identification systems in Latin America.

4. Communication and information technologies.

5. Privacy and transparency.

6. Identification, identities and subjectivities.

7. Relationship between global and local, in identification systems.

8. Postcolonial logics and political regimes.

9. Identities, surveillance and resistance.

10. Identification, identity and surveillance in Latin America: new theories?

Important Dates

Call for Papers Publication: July 30th 2009.

Abstract reception deadline: October 30th 2009.

Accepted lectures list publication: December 15th 2010.

Complete paper remittance deadline: February 15th 2010.

Complete program publication: February 28th 2010.

Second Symposium on surveillance in Latin America: March 16th, 17th y 18th 2010. University of the State of Mexico, Faculty of Politics and Social Studies. Toluca, México.

Organizing Committee

Nelson Arteaga Botello

Roberto J. Fuentes Rionda

Faculty of Politics and Social Studies, University of the State of Mexico

Rodrigo Firmito

Postgraduate Program in Urban Management, Pontifical Catholic University of Parana, Curitiba, Brazil

Fernanda Bruno

Postgraduate School of Communication, Federal University of Río de Janeiro, Brasil

Marta Kanashiro

Further Studies Laboratory of Journalism and Knowledge, Technology and Market Group, University of the State of Campinas (UNICAMP), Campinas, Brasil.

Danilo Doneda

De Campos Faculty of Law, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

André Lemos

Federal University of Bahia, Brasil

With the support of:

David Lyon

David Murakami Wood

Department of Sociology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Proposal reception, Information and Contact


Mega-events, Security and Surveillance

The connection between what are often called ‘mega-events’ (international summits, major sporting competitions etc.), securitization, and he intensification of surveillance is becoming a very interesting area and one which we wrote about in our recent book on urban resilience. I am writing some further stuff on this with Kiyoshi Abe on how mega-events have been managed in Japan.

It seems that in general, such events are either used as ‘test-beds’ for new technologies and procedures which are then either continued afterwards (as with The Olympic Games and CCTV in Greece in 2004 and The FIFA World Cup and video surveillance in Japan/Korea in 2002), or become ‘islands’ of temporary exemption where normal legal human rights protections are reduced or removed and whole areas of public space are often literally, fenced off (as in Rio de Janeiro for the Pan-American Games of 2007, whose model will apparently be extended to include walling off the poor favelas in time for the 2014 FIFA World Cup). There’s going to be a very interesting conference on The Surveillance Games later this year to tie in with the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Now The Guardian newspaper is reporting that the London Olympics 2012 may make use of a proposal originally designed to stop the proliferation of unofficial commercial advertising near games venues in order to prevent protest. The legislation even allows police to enter private houses to seize material.

Of course the government say that they have no plans to use it in this way, but it’s interesting to see the way in which the ‘standards’ being imposed by such travelling cicuses of globalization tend to end up looking more like the authoritarian regime in Beijing (host of the highly securitized 2008 Olympics) than the supposedly liberal west, whilst at the same time promoting a very controlled but highly commercialized environment. Even the original purposes of the 2006 law (necessary for London to host the Games) are an interesting reflection of the massive corporate interests involved in the Olympics, for which they apparently need a captive and docile audience.