Call for Papers: Surveillance, Democracy, and the Rule of Law

Abstract brushstrokes in vibrant colours

Explore the impact of the proliferation of surveillance on democratic values and norms, and on individuals rights and legal remedies

  • 19 January 2022
  • 6 min read

We are excited to invite you to a conference on 'Surveillance, Democracy, and the Rule of Law', co-organised by the University of Portsmouth and the European University Institute (EUI).

The conference will explore new avenues to think about the impact of the proliferation of surveillance on democratic values and norms, and on individuals rights and legal remedies.

About the conference

University of Portsmouth and European University Institute 2022 Conference

Thursday 9 – Friday 10 June 2022

European University Institute, Florence

We welcome papers that fit broadly within the theme of the conference, and particularly one of the interrelated themes of (i) Democracy and the Rule of Law in the Age of Surveillance: Challenges and Alternative Possibilities; (ii) Automation, Surveillance, and Democracy: A Journey Through Time; and (iii) (Re)imagining Rights and Legal Remedies.

Interested participants should submit an abstract of no more than 500 words to via email to Elif Mendos Kuşkonmaz at elif.kuskonmaz@port.ac.uk by 28 February 2022.

Conference theme 

The use of surveillance systems is omnipresent in current society.

Symbolised by smart cities and smart homes, surveillance through the implementation of automated systems has been transforming everyday life into measurements and patterns. While many of these systems are actually deployed by private sector organisations, a growing number of governments has been implementing automated tools for a range of policies, from public security to immigration controls and, most recently, public health.

These automated systems transform the ability of public authorities and/or the public sector to ‘sort’ and monitor individuals through conducting behavioural ‘pattern’ analysis and identifying abnormal patterns within the pool of collected data. New technologies for automated ‘predictive’ surveillance thus have augmented the questions of transparency, accountability, oversight, and the protection of democratic freedoms.

Submission of papers

We welcome papers that fit broadly within the theme of the conference. In particular, we invite papers that relate to one or more of the following interrelated themes:

1) Democracy and the Rule of Law in the Age of Surveillance: Challenges and Alternative Possibilities

This theme focuses on the impacts of surveillance technologies on the democratic norms and the rule of law. Topics could include: 

  • What are the legal, ethical, and moral boundaries to surveillance systems?
  • What type of oversight system exists for surveillance by public authorities and/or public sector?
  • How has the privatisation of surveillance challenged the checks and balances of the rule of law? How can states and the EU react to these challenges?
  • To what extent surveillance systems run counter to the principles of democratic governance?
  • How can civil society and human rights defenders use technology and digitalisation to strengthen democratic engagement?

Studies may also consider the impact that the proliferation of surveillance has on democracy and the rule of law with reference to specific case studies.

2) Automation, Surveillance, and Democracy: A Journey Through Time

This theme will involve papers exploring what impact, if any, the more sophisticated means of automated surveillance has had on the legitimacy of the exercise of power in different democratic contexts, including in new democracies or former repressive regimes. This could include: 

  • What is the public perception of surveillance in post-oppressive regimes?
  • How has the continuous automation of surveillance transformed and challenged democratic institutions and norms?
  • What has been the impact of whistleblowing and/or parliamentary inquiries in challenging the omnipresent surveillance practices?

3) (Re)imagining Rights and Legal Remedies

This theme invites studies addressing rights and remedies of individuals applicable to the use of automated surveillance systems in different areas such as the workplace, social welfare, predictive policing and border and immigration controls.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the impacts of automated surveillance systems on fair trial and due process rights, access to justice, privacy and data protection rights, right to work, and right to freedom from discrimination.

Guidelines for contributors

Interested participants should submit an abstract of no more than 500 words to via email to Elif Mendos Kuşkonmaz at elif.kuskonmaz@port.ac.uk.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 28 February 2022.

All abstracts will be reviewed by the conveners, and selections will be announced by 31 March 2022. If selected, authors will be asked to submit a full paper and an abstract by 15 May 2022 for circulation amongst the speakers.

Participants will be responsible for their own accommodation and travel expenses.

Conveners:

  • Gábor Halmai (EUI)
  • Elif Mendos Kuskonmaz (University of Portsmouth)