Monthly Archives: January 2014

picture by rpeschetz (@flickr)

Gary T. Marx, Professor Emeritus of sociology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and currently Visiting Professor at VUB, will present on 17th February 2014 a public lecture entitled ‘Windows of the Soul: Surveillance and Society in an Age of High Technology’.  Professor Marx will illustrate how and why surveillance is neither good nor bad. The emphasis is on a conceptual framework dealing with structures, processes, cultural meanings and experiences that can accommodate and help explain the variation in surveillance tools – such as video, biometry, sensors, RFID chips, GPS, social media and big data sets. Gary T. Marx’ goals are normative, as well as social scientific, as he seeks frameworks for judging and evaluating public policy. Respondent: Prof. Paul De Hert (LSTS). Free entrance, no registration needed. More information: here.


picture by mike licht (@flickr)

On 6th February 2014 will take place at VUB a full day seminar with Prof. Dr. Nikolas Rose, from King’s College London. This expert seminar will fuel contemporary academic debate about biosocial criminology which has been raised in particular by recent scientific findings in fields other than criminology, such as biology, genetics and neuroscience. The event is co-organised by LSTS & CRiS, and sponsored by the VUB Doctoral School of Human Science. More information, including full programme and how to register: here.

surveillanceWith all the focus on an ever expanding array of high-tech and “big data” based forms of surveillance it is easy to forget that traditional forms of covert surveillance and human intelligence gathering remain challenged and can be as privacy-invasive. Recent exposés of undercover policing in Britain and the USA and corporate espionage against NGOs and activists in Europe clearly illustrate this. Furthermore, toward the latter part of the 20th century citizens in Europe and the US are increasingly responsibilised for their own security and outsourced by police for surveillance through neighbourhood watch schemes, if you see something report it campaigns, not to mention traditional vigilante groups and police informers. Roles between public and private, citizens and police are becoming increasingly blurred. The panel will discuss new developments in these policing practices and explore some of  the social, ethical and legal issues that accompany them.

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picture from Silvio Lorusso’s project Content Aware Typography

This year the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection International Conference is working together with Constant Association for Art and Media to organise at Brussel’s Les Halles de Schaerbeek and la Maison des Arts the exhibition ‘Are You Being Served’. Artists coming from all over Europe have asked themselves the question: ‘Who does that server really serve?’. The Internet has become a platform for increasing numbers of service providers that control computer use and network and data traffic. Cloud computing service providers ought to ensure security and transparency when processing your data, which are stored in unknown locations and being ‘served’ back to you where and whenever you want – but do they? The art will be exhibited at CPDP and will address – in a humorous and inventive way – the stereotypical gender relations in IT environments, the protection of sensitive medical data, interceptions of network traffic and the commercial use of user generated data, etc. More information here and here.

picture by ian-s (@flickr)

Gary T. Marx, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at MIT, will be a visiting scholar at VUB’s LSTS and Research Group Crime and Society (CRiS) from 20th January to 2nd March 2014. Marx’s visit will be launched with the talk ‘Cops and Robbers, Nuts and Sluts: Five Decades as a Member of the Chattering Classes Trying to Do Good by Using Words‘. This kick off talk will offer an overview of his research and teaching career identifying themes that have continued to animate it based on experiences with mentors such as Erving Goffman, SM Lipset, Neil Smelser, Herbert Blumer, Ralph Turner, Donald Cressey, David Reisman, Herb Gans and Robert Merton at Berkeley, Harvard and MIT and 20 plus other schools in the U.S., Europe and Asia. This has involved work with governments and police agencies in particular, non-profits, commissions of inquiry, legislative and judicial institutions and the media. This seminar will take place on Thursday 30 January 2014 from 12:00-14:00 in Room 4C306. Please register before 24th January 2014: Additional information can be found at Gary T. Marx’s personal website and through Wikipedia.

picture by ubiquit23 (@flickr)

UNCAMP 2014, the NGO event on privacy & surveillance organised annually in conjunction with the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection International Conference, will take place on 21st January 2014. UNCAMP 2014 will bring together privacy advocates and members of NGOs to discuss privacy protection and surveillance in the digital age, and, more concretely, to develop strategies to address current challenges. Please check the agenda and how to register in the UNCAMP flyer (pdf).