Research Queen's University Canada

From the Babysitter to Alexa: Surveillance is All Around

From the Babysitter to Alexa: Surveillance is All Around

Have you ever thought about what happens to all of your data? Dr. David Lyon, PhD Candidate Midori Ogasawara, and Dr. David Murakami Wood discuss the changing nature of surveillance studies and the accountability around mass data collection.

Interviewee Name: 
Dr. David Lyon, Professor, Queen’s Research Chair in Surveillance Studies; Dr. David Murakami Wood, Associate Professor, Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies; Midori Ogasawara, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology
Topic: 
From the Babysitter to Alexa: Surveillance is All Around
Podcast: 
Blind Date with Knowledge, Season 2, Episode 07
Interviewed by: 
Barry Kaplan
Air date on CFRC: 
October 31, 2018
Episode length: 
26:52
Academic areas: 

Dr. David Lyon is Director of the Surveillance Studies Centre and Professor of Sociology and Law at Queen’s University. Dr. Lyon is credited with spearheading the field of “surveillance studies,” and he has produced a steady stream of books and articles on the subject. His most recent book, The Culture of Surveillance: Watching as a Way of Life, looks at the imaginaries and practices of everyday surveillance. Dr. Lyon is also the Principal Investigator of the “Big Data Surveillance” project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. This study examines the relationship between big data and surveillance in security, marketing, and governance.

Dr. David Murakami Wood is the Canada Research Chair in Surveillance Studies at Queen’s. He is a widely published specialist in the sociology and geography of surveillance and security in cities from a global comparative perspective, with a particular focus on Japan, Brazil, Canada, and the UK. His current research focuses on security and surveillance in smart cities. Dr. Murakami Wood is also the Editor-in-Chief of the international, open-access, peer-reviewed journal, Surveillance & Society, and a co-investigator of the “Big Data Surveillance” project.

Midori Ogasawara is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology. Ogasawara's current doctoral project focuses on the colonial origins and consequences of “identification” technologies, such as ID cards and biometrics, in northeastern China under the Japanese occupation of the 1920s. Ogasawara worked as a staff writer for Asahi Shimbun -- Japan’s national newspaper, for 10 years. She was awarded the Fulbright Journalist Scholarship and John S. Knight Professional Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University in 2004-2005. In May 2016, she was the first Japanese journalist to interview the NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden, and she published a number of articles.

In this special panel episode, the scholars discuss the changing nature of surveillance studies. Dr. Lyon explains his concept of “social sorting” as dividing a population into groups so that they can be seen and treated differently. Ogasawara explores the colonial roots of the Japanese biometric ID system, arguing that it was grounded in perceptions of Chinese labour and internal resistance. While Dr. Murakami Wood explains that cities have always been mechanisms for surveillance with current iterations such as smart cities allowing private companies to integrate themselves into government and gain mass data. Together, they discuss the future of the regulation and accountability of mass data collection in an ever-increasing multinational process.

Please visit the Surveillance Studies Centre for more information about their research.

From the Babysitter to Alexa: Surveillance is All Around

Season 2: Episode 07