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February 04 , 2009

Transparency and Surveillance as Sociotechnical Accountability

A House of Mirrors


Surveillance and transparency are both significant and increasingly pervasive activities in neoliberal societies. Surveillance is taken up as a means to achieving security and efficiency; transparency is seen as a mechanism for ensuring compliance or promoting informed consumerism and informed citizenship. Indeed, transparency is often seen as the antidote to the threats and fears of surveillance. This book adopts a novel approach in examining surveillance practices and transparency practices together as parallel systems of accountability. It presents the house of mirrors as a new framework for understanding surveillance and transparency practices instrumented with information technology. The volume centers around five case studies: Campaign Finance Disclosure, Secure Flight, American Red Cross, Google, and Facebook. A series of themed chapters draw on the material and provide cross-case analysis. The volume ends with a chapter on policy implications.

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