Gemma Galdon Clavell is the Director of the Security Policy Program at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, focusing on security and community safety policy, security technology and fundamental rights, policing and public order in urban environments, local governance and social control. Her PhD addressed the proliferation of CCTV in Spain from a policy perspective.
She has previously worked for the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the Transnational Institute and other academic institutions. She currently teaches police officers at the Catalan Institute for Public Security and is a guest lecturer at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the Erasmus Universiteit in Rotterdam.
She is currently involved in the international advisory board of Privacy International, the Latinamerican Network on Surveillance Studies and the EU-funded projects Living in Surveillance Societies (LiSS) and Increasing Resilience in Surveillance Societies (IRISS).
CPDP Conference 2011
Surveillance by any other name? Understanding counter-surveillance and privacy as critical discourse and practice
In 2008, an exhibition center in Northern Spain hosted a project called Situation Room which tried to recreate an “open” control room drawing, on the one hand, on the experience of previous hacklabs or medialabs set up by social movements, and, on the other, on an operations room designed in the 70s in order to gather and analyze economic data to organize the Chilean economy under Salvador Allende’s government, called Project Cybersyn.
The fact that an artistic/activist project would use a government initiative of surveillance as a reference brings to the fore questions about what it means to subvert the surveillance society, and the limits of privacy in the information society. What is identified as the problem in critical discourses, the ability to monitor people’s everyday moves and store personal data or the aims of surveillance? Or maybe it is the ideology or political affiliation of the surveillants that makes the difference? Are there instances in which the massive storage of personal data could be justified? Is all surveillance wrong or can control and data-mining be put to the service of dissent or the common good?
This paper will explore how definitions of counter-surveillance, sousveillance , privacy and data protection have been theorized in the existing literature and artistic practices and confront them with recurring themes in critical surveillance studies.