- Professor, Department of Sociology
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada 2008
- Killam Research Fellowship 2007-2009
Keeping an eye on surveillance
Dr. David Lyon - Director of Queen’s Surveillance Studies Centre - has been keeping tabs on surveillance and privacy trends for more than 25 years. From retail loyalty cards to public transit cameras and airport security, our everyday lives are tracked and monitored. Professor Lyon’s work examines the positive and negative ramifications of this and supports the development of policies that keep our communities, and our rights and freedoms, safe.
70% of Canadians feel the erosion of their privacy will become one of the most important issues facing the country.
Satellites spy on you. Closed-circuit TVs watch you. Retailers file away your postal code. Vast organizations know who you are and what you do.
Queen's researchers are carefully scrutinizing this globalization of personal data (GPD), and how governments and corporations are whittling away at the quaint old concept of privacy in an anxious post-911 world.
The Queen's-based Surveillance Studies Centre works with governments to plumb the social and ethical depths of these new technologies, by drawing on its expanding international network of academics, policy and advocacy groups, and security organizations.
Its researchers recently released the first multi-national survey of citizens' concerns about privacy and surveillance. They played a central role in the compilation of a recent report for the British Information Commissioner, which raised concerns responded to by former Prime Minister Tony Blair. The report is still under study by the House of Lords.
Surveillance and classification technologies offer some benefits, but the dangers extend well beyond simple privacy issues. People can be sorted into categories for reasons of efficiency and profit, as well as security and policing. This can have far-reaching consequences for people's life opportunities, the researchers say.
So do you know what your teenager has been posting on Facebook?