Surveillance, Privacy and Dissent in a Globalizing World: Community College Educators Workshop

March 2021

In this full day workshop, community college educators will discuss the topic of surveillance and privacy in a globalizing world.

The first half of the day will consist of an interactive presentation by Badri Rao of Kettering University. The second half will allow for small group discussion of articles relevant to the theme guided by facilitators.

Co-Sponsoring & Supporting Universities:  

University of Michigan, Center for Latin American & C. Studies

University of Michigan, Center for Middle East & N.A. Studies

University of Illinois, Center for Russian, EE, & Eurasian Studies

University of Wisconsin, Institute for Regional & International Studies

Workshop Host:

Midwest Institute for International/Intercultural Education

The Midwest Institute for International/Intercultural Education (MIIIE) is a self-funded consortium of two-year colleges located in the Midwest region. Its primary objective is to support curriculum and professional development by organizing curriculum workshops, fall and spring conferences, overseas projects for faculty and students, assistance with grant development, provide faculty mentoring and professional networking.

Featured Speaker

Badri Rao

Associate professor of Sociology and Asian Studies in the Department of Liberal Studies, Kettering University, Flint, Michigan, US

Badrinath Rao is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Asian Studies in the Department of Liberal Studies at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan in the United States. He is also a licensed attorney. In the fall, 2018-19 term, Prof. Rao was the Kosciusko Foundation Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Artes Liberales at the University of Warsaw, Poland. Professor Rao obtained his JD from Wayne State University School of Law, Detroit. He earned his PhD in Sociology from the University of Alberta, Canada. Rao’s expertise is in South Asian politics, culture, and society. He also works in the areas of sociology of law and sociology of religion. He lectured and presented papers in several countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Russia, Hungary.

Articles and Abstracts

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"How Dictators Control the Internet" by Eda Keremoğlu and Nils B. Weidmann

How Dictators Control the Internet_ A Review Essay

Abstract: A growing body of research has studied how autocratic regimes interfere with internet communication to contain challenges to their rule. In this review article, we survey the literature and identify the most important directions and challenges for future research. We structure our review along different network layers, each of which provides particular ways of governmental influence and control. While current research has made much progress in understanding individual digital tactics, we argue that there is still a need for theoretical development and empirical progress. First, we need a more comprehensive understanding of how particular tactics fit into an overall digital strategy, but also how they interact with traditional, “offline” means of autocratic politics, such as cooptation or repression. Second, we discuss a number of challenges that empirical research needs to address, such as the effectiveness of digital tactics, the problem of attribution, and the tool dependence of existing research.

"Privacy Under Surveillance Capitalism" by Jacob Silverman

Privacy under Surveillance Capitalism

Social Research: An International Quarterly, Volume 84, Number 1, Spring 2017, pp. 147-164

“COVID-19—Extending Surveillance and the Panopticon" by D. Couch, P. Robinson, and P. Komesaroff

COVID-19—Extending Surveillance and the Panopticon

Abstract: Surveillance is a core function of all public health systems. Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have deployed traditional public health surveillance responses, such as contact tracing and quarantine, and extended these responses with the use of varied technologies, such as the use of smartphone location data, data networks, ankle bracelets, drones, and big data analysis. Applying Foucault’s (1979) notion of the panopticon, with its twin focus on surveillance and self-regulation, as the preeminent form of social control in modern societies, we examine the increasing levels of surveillance enacted during this pandemic and how people have participated in, and extended, this surveillance, self-regulation, and social control through the use of digital media. Consideration is given to how such surveillance may serve public health needs and/or political interests and whether the rapid deployment of these extensive surveillance mechanisms risks normalizing these measures so that they become more acceptable and then entrenched post-COVID-19.

"Beyond Surveillance Capitalism" by B. Aho and R. Duffield

“Beyond Surveillance Capitalism” by B. Aho and R. Duffield

Abstract: Technology giants, bolstered by weak regulatory oversight, have expanded capacities for personal data collection and analysis. This has resulted in a new set of power dynamics and logics of accumulation collectively referred to as surveillance capitalism. In response, the EU and China have adopted major policies on big data with implications for future social and economic development. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation is a reactive response, asserting individual privacy and placing limits on corporate use of personal data. In contrast, China’s social credit system is a proactive response, combining surveillance architectures and AI technologies for purposes of statecraft. Using a comparative approach, this paper analyses the social and economic implications of two societies attempting to move beyond surveillance capitalism.

“Big Brother’s Bigger Brother” by B. Snyder


Abstract: In 2016, without the knowledge of its citizens, Baltimore City Police deployed a military aerial surveillance technology called Wide Area Motion Imagery (WAMI), which can track the movements of every person in public view over the entire city. Though the trial of the “spy plane,” as the program was dubbed, quickly ended in scandal, organizers from Baltimore’s low-income minority neighborhoods successfully rebooted the program in 2020, this time framing WAMI partly as a tool of “sousveillance” (watching “from below”) that can track the movements of police officers. The paper shows how organizers “rebranded” WAMI around two conceptions of sousveillance-“citizen-centered” and “state-centered”-creating an unlikely coalition of supporters from both pro-and anti-policing sides of the criminal justice reform debate. But while the renewed program has vowed to be a “Big Brother” to the state, it will continue to be used for traditional surveillance, raising troubling questions about privacy. The article sheds light on the politics of watching and being watched in the era of technology-driven criminal justice reform.