Queen's University

Census/invasion of privacy

2010-08-09

Queen’s University sociology professor David Murakami Wood is available to talk about the long-form census debate and whether or not the census is an invasion of privacy as some critics claim.

“One only has to glance at the history of government data collection and its role in discrimination to see that that one can be far too blase about the ‘impossibility’ of states misusing statistics – race in particular. Examples abound, from the Holocaust of the 1940s to the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s,” says Prof. Murakami Wood, whose research interest includes the politics and ethics of surveillance.

“However, just because the census is a form of coercive state surveillance, which has the potential for misuse, it does not necessarily make it wrong. The whole way in which privacy has been discussed is a red herring. We need to reaffirm a commitment to privacy alongside other collective social values not in opposition to them. We need privacy and we need the census.”

Prof. Murakami Wood is a member of The Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University and is also managing editor of Surveillance & Society, the international journal of surveillance studies.

To arrange an interview, please contact Michael Onesi at 613.533.6000 ext. 77513 or michael.onesi@queensu.ca, or Kristyn Wallace at 613.533.6000 ext. 79173 or kristyn.wallace@queensu.ca at News and Media Services, Queen’s University.

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