The Ethics of Security and Surveillance Technologies

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Professor Hille Haker will deliver a public lecture on

The Ethics of Security and Surveillance Technologies

in the Trinity Long Room Hub, on Thursday 22 January 2015, at 18:30. In this public lecture, organised by the Confederal School of Religions, Peace Studies and Theology at Trinity College Dublin, and the Ethics and Privacy Working Group of the ADAPT centre at TCD, Prof Haker will outline her thoughts on the ethics of surveillance technologies. In particular, she will address the key questions:

Security and freedom: do we need both?
And can we enjoy both without the pursuit of one jeopardising the other?


Prof Haker is a member of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE), which advises the European Commission on ethical issues. On 20 May 2014, the EGE submitted to the Commission their Opinion no 28 on “Ethics of Information and Communication Technologies”. In an era where rapid advances in telecommunications and computing have enabled the data of billions of citizens around the globe to be tracked and scrutinized on an unprecedented scale, the Opinion aims to provide a reference point for the Commission regarding the ethics of security and surveillance measures.

Building upon the Opinion, in this lecture, Prof Haker considers the tensions between security and freedom. After broadening the concept of security to describe the general human needs and rights to secure their well-being (UN), ‘security’ has recently been narrowed down again, in light of terrorist and criminal activities. One area of concern is the expansion of surveillance technologies. The ‘re-turn’ to the narrow security concept has been framed as a necessary ‘trade off’ between security and freedom.

Prof Haker will consider whether this ‘framing’ appropriate, whether surveillance undermines trust as a condition for social cooperation, and whether surveillance technologies will affect us both in our personal relationships and in our presence in the public sphere. And she will argue that a new ‘social contract’ is needed that not only readjusts the political control of individuals but also critically examines the role of companies promoting security and surveillance technologies in comparison with other socio-economic efforts to create security for human beings.

Professor Hille Haker holds the Richard McCormick S.J. Chair of Ethics at Loyola University Chicago. She is a member of the EGE. From 2003-2005, she was Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA and from 2003 – 2009 Chair of Moral Theology and Social Ethics at the University of Frankfurt, Germany.

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