Call for Papers: “New Philosophical Perspectives on Surveillance and Control: Beyond the Privacy versus Security Debate” (scadenza 15 Agosto)

FRIAS Junior Researcher Conference 2015-16

November 5, 2015 – November 6, 2015

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Scientific Coordination:

Elisa Orrù (Freiburg University, Centre for Security and Society and Husserl-Archive)
Sebastian Volkmann (Freiburg University, Centre for Security and Society and Husserl-Archive) Maria Grazia Porcedda (European University Institute, Department of Law)


  •  for submission of papers:
  •  for scientific issues:
  •  for logistic and organisational details: Anna Blattner


The Conference

Issues related to surveillance and control have been tremendously present in the media’s headlines in the past decade. Countless examples can be named: The debate about the deployment of body scanners at airports raised strong objections to what some people considered a “virtual strip search”; the continued legal and political battle over communications data retention across Europe once again reignited after the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015; the revelation of a vast network of surveillance programmes conducted by the NSA resulted in a continued debate about governmental overreach and the existence of a digital surveillance state. All of these examples unveil two recurring and related features of security-orientated surveillance and control: 1) the pervasive use of technologies able to collect personal information and 2) the preventative, intelligence-led approach to public and national security. Both in and outside academia, the current debate consequently features questions mostly framed in terms of a privacy versus security dilemma or a trade-off model: in order to achieve “more” security, we have to sacrifice “a quantum of” privacy. However, this trade-off model has been contested and it is patent that the impact of large-scale surveillance measures goes far beyond security and privacy matters. On the one hand, techniques of surveillance and control are indispensable tools for exercising and generating power as well as for establishing social order. On the other hand, the negative effects can reach as far as threatening the very fabric of social and democratic life. A cogent example of this menace is the “chilling” of the societal climate to a point where citizens refrain from taking legitimate actions in fear of negative repercussions. Although such aspects of surveillance and control are widely known, we are still missing a theoretical framework to fully understand their meaning and consequences. The conference aims at bringing together leading experts and young researchers in order to devise such a framework and to discuss the implications of practices of surveillance and control for contemporary societies. We strive to identify the most promising philosophical paths to developing theoretical tools that will allow us to better understand those challenges, which are likely to shape much of the 21st century.

Confirmed speakers:

  •  Hans-Helmuth Gander, Freiburg University
  •  Rafaela Hillerbrand, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  •  Jörg Klingbeil, Data Protection Commissioner of the state of Baden-Württemberg
  •  Constanze Kurz, Chaos Computer Club
  •  Ralf Poscher, Freiburg University
  •  Martin Scheinin, former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, European University Institute
  •  Mariachiara Tallacchini, University of Piacenza

Publication of accepted contributions

Accepted papers will be published either as part of an edited collection in the Nomos book series “Sicherheit und Gesellschaft” or as a special-issue in a peer-reviewed journal.

Instructions for submission of papers

We invite submission of original, unpublished work. Please submit full papers by the 15th of August through EasyChair at the following link:
Submitted papers will be subject to a blind review.

  • Please fill in the forms on the EasyChair submission page, including all authors’ names, their affiliation, the title of the paper, an abstract of maximum 250 words, and the panel it is intended for. You may need to create an account for submission.
  • Then attach your full paper as a PDF file.
  • Your paper should be prepared for blind review. It should include the title of the paper, the panel it is conceived for, the abstract (maximum 250 words) and the paper’s text.
  • The full text (including abstract, footnotes and references) must not exceed 12,000 words. Take into account that we encourage submissions shorter than 12,000 words.
  • Papers must be submitted in English.
  • Please use the Harvard Style Referencing. See our style sheet for details:

Conference Panels

1. Surveillance as social control and its meaning to power

Surveillance is a key instrument of administrative power. Since the naissance of modern bureaucracy, it has allowed states and other organisations to gather information about populations and to exercise social control. The panel aims to apprehend contemporary uses of surveillance directed towards supervising and controlling populations and to identify the main actors involved.

  •  How to identify the institutional actors that coordinate such uses of surveillance in an era of changing sovereignty?
  •  Which are the central institutional agencies and practices of surveillance and control today?

2. Risk management paradigms in policies of surveillance and control

In many democratic societies, there has been a shift from repressive towards preventive security measures. Part of this broader shift is the increased use of risk assessment techniques by relevant actors such as law enforcement organisations or other security agencies. The goal of the panel is to focus on the role and objectivity of risk management in security provision and its impact on society.

  •  What are the interdependencies between large-scale surveillance measures and preventive risk management?
  •  Are the juridical and philosophical concepts of individual privacy and data protection adequate to fully grasp the societal impact of surveillance, risk assessment and control measures – or should we rather turn to other concepts?

3. Beyond the individual: new dimensions of privacy

The protection of privacy is still the most important policy instrument used to counteract the negative effects of surveillance. However, the concept of the protection of privacy as a value and as a policy instrument has been under harsh criticism for being overall ineffective or too focused on the individual. The purpose of this panel is to theoretically explore the concept of privacy and its multiple dimensions.

  •  What does privacy mean?
  •  Can we speak of a comprehensive “privacy” right or should we rather keep different aspects,such as family life and data protection, distinct?
  •  Is privacy really only an individual interest, or, rather, does it also have an intrinsic socialvalue?

4. The impact of surveillance and control beyond privacy: rights, rule of law and social justice

This panel tackles ways to theoretically describe and apprehend the impact of surveillance and control on individuals and society beyond the privacy intrusions.

  •  What is the impact of institutional surveillance practices on fundamental rights and values other than privacy such as, for instance, freedom of expression, freedom of information, social trust and distributive justice?
  •  How can we conceptualise the impact of surveillance on democracy and the rule of law?
  •  What are the interdependencies between the consequences of surveillance and control on individuals and those on society?

Relevant deadlines:

  •  August 15th: deadline for paper submissions.
  •  September 5th: notification of acceptance.
    December 15th: deadline for the submission of the final version of the paper, formatted according to the publication template.


The participation in the conference and the optional social programme is free of charge for all speakers; the welcome reception, lunches, coffee breaks and conference dinner will all be covered by the host.
However, speakers will have to organize and finance their travel and accommodation individually. We offer the possibility to cover part of the expenses for hotel and travelling for a limited number of speakers without institutional funding. Please inform us upon acceptance if you wish to make use of such a possibility.