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Roger Clarke's 'Future Studies, Surveillance Society'

Research on Surveillance Societies

Sketch of 17 July 2022

Roger Clarke

© Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 2022

Available under an AEShareNet Free
for Education licence or a Creative Commons 'Some
Rights Reserved' licence.

This document is at

A related set of Working Notes is at


1. Introduction

In early July 2022, Prof. Niederman approached me in relation to a course he was running on 'future studies', which is both about how to study the future and what the future might bring. He invited me to video record an interview with him about the surveillance society -- how I study this, what general conclusions I've come to, and how individuals might react whether or not they buy into your conclusions.

In order to prepare for the interview, I needed to check back over the research I've done in relation to the surveillance society, extract information about study methods, and reflect on key findings and their impact. I started out by identifying my main publications and unpublished manuscripts relevant to the topic, then put together these Notes.

2. Surveillance, Surveillance Society, Surveillance Technologies

Surveillance is usefully defined as the systematic investigation or monitoring of the actions or communications of one or more persons. Techniques have been developed over millennia, and technologies over centuries. Investment by repressive regimes like that of Stalin either side of WWII, and applied in East Germany until about 1990, and by the PRC, and by the USA on an ongoing basis, has seen the accumulation of technologies, and increased effectiveness and intrusiveness. Adoption has extended far beyond spying, counter-spying and policing agencies, with widespread use by other government agencies, by corporations, and by individuals. Throughout the 20th century, a dystopian literature painted a bleak picture of the impacts of surveillance technologies. Of particular significance were Zamyatin's 'We' (1922), Orwell's '1984' (1948), Brunner's 'The Shockwave Rider' (1975) and Gibson's 'Neuromancer' (1984).

The term 'surveillance society' emerged during the closing years of the 20th century (Marx 1985, Flaherty 1988, Weingarten 1988, Gandy 1989, Lyon 1994, Lyon 2001). The sentiments are well summed-up by the speculation that "Technology could be offering the tools for building a surveillance society in which everything people do and are as human beings is an open book to those who assert some 'right' to monitor them" (Weingarten 1988, p.747).

My activities in the area of surveillance society arose from my early work on privacy impacts of computing. In 1972-74, I ran a Special Interest Group of the Australian Computer Society, whose purpose was to ensure that the proposed privacy legislation in that State would not unreasonably constrain the still-emergent industry that was applying computing to the data-processing needs of large government agencies and business enterprises. Durng 1976-77, I conducted research for the NSW Government's Privacy Committee (subsequently Commission), including the lead-authoring of one of the world's first set of privacy guidelines for personal data systems (NSWPC 1977). I then resumed my career as a systems analyst, later IT consultant and researcher, but have revisited the area sporadically on many occasions during the intervening 45 years.

Given my professional and disciplinary backround (in Business Information Systems), and the origins of my interest in the surveillance society, I have naturally framed my work in the area around the notion of data as a tool, and IT as an intervention into social processes.

Categories of surveillance technology are familiar to us all, and yet not well-enough understood.

Physical, Spatial, Visual, Aural, all with Tech Augmentation

Electronic Communications, from the telegraph, telephone, data networks, the Internet

Data - "the systematic monitoring of people's actions or communications through the application of information technology"

Digital Persona, Location and Tracking, imposed anklets and embedded chips


Auto - by the self, of the self - diary-blogging, self-exposure on Facebook, FitBit
In the Panopticon, be it of Bentham (1791) or Foucault (1977), the watched are never sure when the watcher's gaze is focussed on them, leading to a self-disciplinary 'chilling effect' whereby intentional acts by one party have a strong deterrent effect on important, positive behaviours of some other party (Schauer 1978, Penney 2016).

Auto-Physical - vlogging, mobile-device-carriage, voluntary chip-insertion

Omni / Supra - multi-stream, coordinated


3. Relevant Research Techniques

Business Case

Risk Assessment

Impact Assessment

Case Study

Futurism / Scenario Analysis

4. Significance Beyond Surveillance

Researcher Perspective


Participants / Users

Non-Participants / Usees

Beyond Single-Perspective, System-Sponsor Research

Win-Win / Dual

Win-Win-Win / Multi-Perspective / Networked Industry Sectors



5. Conclusions


Resource List

The following are my publications, plus some unpublished manuscripts, relevant to the topic 'surveillance society', and the way in which such a topic can be studied.

Retrospectives on Surveillance Tech esp. Dataveillance Tech

Clarke R. (2021) 'A Dataveillance Retrospective: 1986-2021' Panel Notes on 'Geolocationand Dataveillance, Sousveillance and Uberveillance', AAG GeoethicsSeries Webinar, American Association of Geographers, 11 August 2021, PrePrint at, and slide-set, andPanel video

Clarke R. (2020) 'Notes for an Interview on Dataveillance'December 2020, at

Clarke R. (2020) 'Auto-Surveillance' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd,December 2020, at

Clarke R. (2014) 'From Dataveillance to Ueberveillance' Interview in Michael K. & Michael M.G. (eds.) 'Uberveillance and the Social Implications of Microchip Implants: Emerging Technologies', IGI Global, 2014, pp. 18-31, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2014) 'Promise Unfulfilled: The Digital Persona Concept, Two Decades Later' Information Technology & People 27,2 (Jun 2014) 182-207, PrePrint at

Relevant Research Techniques (mostly embedded, not the article's focus)

Clarke R. (2022) 'Responsible Application of Artificial Intelligence to Surveillance: What Prospects?' Information Polity 27, 2 (Jun 2022) 175-191, Special Issue on 'Questioning Modern Surveillance Technologies', PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2022) 'Evaluating the Impact of Digital Interventions into Social Systems: How to Balance Stakeholder Interests' Presentation on Multi-Stakeholder Risk Assessment (MSRA), to the International Digital Security Forum (IDSF22), Vienna, 1 June 2022, Stream on 'Understanding the Challenges of Digital Societies', at

Clarke R., Davison R.M. & Jia W. (2020) 'Researcher Perspective in the IS Discipline: An Empirical Study of Articles in the Basket of 8 Journals' Information Technology & People 33, 6 (October 2020) 1515-1541, PrePrint at

Clarke R. & Davison R.D. (2020) 'Through Whose Eyes? The Critical Concept of Researcher Perspective' J. Assoc. Infor. Syst. 21, 2 (March-April 2020) 483-501, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2022) 'Research Opportunities in the Regulatory Aspects of Electronic Markets' Electronic Markets 32, 1 (Jan-Mar 2022) 179-200, PrePrint at esp.

s.3 A Framework for Regulatory Research in Electronic Markets and

s.5 The Framework Applied to Platforms

Clarke R. (2022) 'Proposal to a Santa Barbara event for a Research Program on 'Scenario Analysis for Locational Information Futures', 3 January 2022, at
(Accepted, but had to withdraw due to COVID travel-challenges)

Clarke R. (2021) 'A Simulation Model for COVID-19 Public Health Management: Design and Preliminary Evaluation' Proc. Bled eConference, 27-30 June 2021, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2021) 'A Comprehensive Framework for Regulatory Regimes as a Basis for Effective Privacy Protection' Proc. 14th Computers, Privacy and Data Protection Conference (CPDP'21), Brussels, 27-29 January 2021, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2020) 'The Visualisation of Virtual Surveillance: How do we Extend Ourselves Beyond the Visual Metaphor?' Notes for a Panel Session discussing the video-documentary 'Stare into the lights, my pretties', at IEEE ISTAS'20, 15 November 2020, at

Clarke R. (2019) 'Principles and Business Processes for Responsible AI' Computer Law & Security Review 35, 4 (2019) 410-422, PrePrint at

esp. s.3 Risk Assessment and Management

Clarke R. (2019) 'Risks Inherent in the Digital Surveillance Economy: A Research Agenda' Journal of Information Technology 34,1 (Mar 2019) 59-80, PrePrint at

[ A more grounded approach to Zuboff's 'surveillance capitalism' ]

esp. s.6.1 Research into Alternative Futures, at

Clarke R. (2017) 'An Instrumentalist's View of Koops et al.'s Typology of Privacy' Notes in Preparation for a Panel Session at CPDP on 27 January 2017 on Koops' et al. (2016)'s 'Types of Privacy', at

Clarke R. (2016) 'Big Data Prophylactics' Chapter 1 in Lehmann A., Whitehouse D., Fischer-H[[Ydieresis]]bner S., Fritsch L. & Raab C. (eds.) 'Privacy and Identity Management. Facing up to Next Steps' Springer, 2017, pp. 3-14, (Keynote at the IFIP Summer School on Privacy and Identity Management, Karlstad, Sweden, 22 August 2016), PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2016) 'Privacy Impact Assessments as a Control Mechanism for Australian National Security Initiatives' Computer Law & Security Review 32, 3 (May-June 2016) 403-418, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2016) 'Big Data, Big Risks' Information Systems Journal 26, 1 (January 2016) 77-90, PrPrint at

Clarke R. (2016) 'A Framework for Analysing Technology's Negative and Positive Impacts on Freedom and Privacy' Datenschutz und Datensicherheit 40, 1 (January 2016) 79-83, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2015) 'Quasi-Empirical Scenario Analysis and Its Application to Big Data Quality' Proc. 28th Bled eConference, Slovenia, 7-10 June 2015, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2014) 'Surveillance, Resilience and Democracy' Panelist's Comments at the Joint Final Event of the EU IRISS, RESPECT and SURVEILLE Projects, Brussels, 30 October 2014, at

esp. s.3 ... A Body of [Meta-]Principles [for Evaluation]

Clarke R. (2014) 'Privacy and Social Media: An Analytical Framework' Journal of Law, Information and Science 23,1 (April 2014) 1-23, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2014) 'Approaches to Impact Assessment' Notes for a Panel Presentation at CPDP'14, Brussels, 22 January 2014, on the topic of 'Legal and Non-Legal Technology Impact Assessments', at

Clarke R. (2012) 'The Challenging World of Privacy Advocacy' IEEE Technology & Society 31, 4 (Winter 2012) 29-31, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2012) 'A Framework for Surveillance Analysis' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, rev. February 2012, at

Clarke R. & Wigan M.R. (2011) 'You Are Where You've Been: The Privacy Implications of Location and Tracking Technologies' Journal of Location Based Services 5, 3-4 (December 2011) 138-155, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2009) 'Surveillance in Speculative Fiction: Have Our Artists Been Sufficiently Imaginative?' Notes for a Keynote at the Access & Privacy Workshop in Toronto on 27 October 2009, and a seminar at Cambridge Computer Laboratory on 2 November 2009, at

Clarke R. (2009) 'Privacy Impact Assessment: Its Origins and Development' Computer Law & Security Review 25, 2 (April 2009) 123-135, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2008) 'Business Cases for Privacy-Enhancing Technologies' Chapter 7 in Subramanian R. (Ed.) 'Computer Security, Privacy and Politics: Current Issues, Challenges and Solutions' IDEA Group, 2008, pp. 135-155, PrePrint at

esp. s.5 Business Cases for PETs

Clarke R. (2006) 'Make Privacy a Strategic Factor - The Why and the How' Cutter IT Journal 19, 11 (October 2006), PrePrint at

Clarke R. (2003) 'Scenario-Based Research' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 26 June 2003, at

Clarke R. (2001) 'Person-Location and Person-Tracking: Technologies, Risks and Policy Implications' Information Technology & People 14, 2 (Summer 2001) 206-231, PrePrint at l

Clarke R. (2001) 'If e-Business is Different, Then So is Research in e-Business' Invited plenary paper for the IFIP TC8 Working Conference on E-Commerce/E-Business, Salzburg, 22-23 June 2001, in Andersen K.V. et al. (eds.) 'Seeking Success in E-Business' Springer, New York, 2003, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (1997) 'Instrumentalist Futurism: A Tool for Examining I.T. Impacts and Implications' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 6 October 1997, at

Clarke R. (1997) 'Chip-Based ID: Promise and Peril' Invited Address to a Workshop on 'Identity cards, with or without microprocessors: Efficiency versus confidentiality', at the International Conference on Privacy, Montreal, 23-26 September 1997, PrePrint at

Clarke R. & Stevens K. (1997) 'Evaluation Or Justification? The Application Of Cost/Benefit Analysis To Computer Matching Schemes' Proc. ECIS'97, Cork, Ireland, 19-21 June 1997, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (1995) 'Computer Matching by Government Agencies: The Failure of Cost/Benefit Analysis as a Control Mechanism' Information Infrastructure & Policy 4,1 (1995) 29-65, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (1994b) 'Human Identification in Information Systems: Management Challenges and Public Policy Issues' Information Technology & People 7,4 (December 1994) 6-37, PrePrint at ../DV/HumanID.html

Clarke R. (1994) 'Human Identification in Information Systems: Management Challenges and Public Policy Issues' Information Technology & People 7,4 (December 1994) 6-37, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (1994) 'Information Technology: Weapon of Authoritarianism or Tool of Democracy?' Proc. IFIP World Congress, Hamburg, September 1994, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (1994) 'The Digital Persona and Its Application to Data Surveillance' The Information Society 10,2 (June 1994), PrePrint at

Clarke R. (1994) 'The Eras of Dataveillance' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 23 March 1994, at

Clarke R. (1993) 'A 'Future Trace' on Dataveillance: Trends in the Anti-Utopia / Science Fiction Genre' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, March 1993, at

Clarke R. (1992) 'A.N.U. Admin. Computing: Status Report of 10 September 2001' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 10 September 1992, Paper for the A.N.U. Administrative Computing Working Party, at

Clarke R. (1988) 'Information Technology and Dataveillance' Commun ACM 31,5 (May 1988) 498-512, PrePrint at

Clarke R. (1986) 'Information Technology and 'Dataveillance' Proc. Symp. on Comp. & Social Responsibility, Macquarie Uni. Dept of Comp. Sci., September 1986

Appendix: A Framework for Surveillance Analysis

The following is extracted from an unpublished working paper that has been utilised in multiple studies and presentations. It comprises Dimensions of a Surveillance Activity and Forms of Surveillance.

For a textual version, see DV/AIP-S.html#S

1. Dimensions of a Surveillance Activity

The public and political acceptability, the legality, and the effectiveness of a particular instance of surveillance differ greatly depending on the design choices that it evidences. An approach to developing an ethical framework for surveillance is in Michael, McNamee & Michael (2006).

Exhibit 3A: Dimensions of a Surveillance Activity - Overview

  1. Of What?
  2. For Whom?
  3. By Whom?
  4. Why?
  5. How?
  6. Where?
  7. When?

Exhibit 3B: Dimensions of a Surveillance Activity - Detail

(1) Of What?

That which is subjected to surveillance may be:

(2) For Whom?

The beneficiaries of surveillance may be:

Relevant categories of organisations include associations of persons, corporations, associations of corporations, and government agencies, which can be usefull further categorised into administrative, law enforcement and national security agencies.

(3) By Whom?

The surveillance may be conducted by:

(4) Why?

Two broad categories of purposes can be distinguished:

The motivation for the surveillance may be:

(5) How?

Using one or more of the forms defined in Exhibit 2A.

(6) Where?

The locus of the surveillance may be defined:

(7) When?

The timeframe in which surveillance is conducted may be:

The intensity with which surveillance is conducted may be:

The persistence of consequences of surveillance may be:

The time-period within which surveillance is applied may be:

2. Forms of Surveillance

The section provides structured lists of the forms of surveillance and supporting technologies. All forms of surveillance interfere with behavioural privacy, and particular forms interfere with communications privacy, data privacy, and privacy of the physical person.

Exhibit 2A: Forms of Surveillance - Overview

Exhibit 2B: Forms of Surveillance - Detail





This involves the observation and possibly also recording of a target's location relative to some physical space, or some virtual space (such as an Internet IP-address).

Longstanding forms of this category of surveillance include the use of human sight and hearing in order to perform a pursuit, and location stake-out (e.g. of the target's own home or workplace; sites of relations, friends, associates; or social locations); and the use of human informants, both in a casual manner, and in a more organised manner such as, in contemporary terms, 'crowd-sourcing'.

More sophisticated forms include the Detection and/or Recording:

Facilitative Mechanisms, include location-data retention and re-purposing, e.g. ANPR data ostensibly for traffic offences but actually or also for mass surveillance

BODY SURVEILLANCE ['+berveillance' type 1]

Detection and/or Recording of data from a person:


Author Affiliations

Roger Clarke is Principal of Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra. He is also a Visiting Professor associated with the Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation in UNSW Law, and a Visiting Professor in the Research School of Computer Science at the Australian National University.

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