Being digital: Digital technologies and citizen-centred approaches to participation, surveillance and privacy

light-ideaCall for participants

CRISP is hosting a workshop to explore contemporary citizen-centred approaches to engaging citizens about their experiences of privacy in the digital world. The ways in which citizen participation and engagement are evolving in the digital world will also be explored. The workshop will feature a series of contributions from expert speakers. It is designed to be interactive and will provide opportunities for those attending to participate in the debate. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. Attendance is free of charge, but places are limited and available on a ‘first come first served’ basis. To register a place at the workshop please email: before 17 February 2017.

Workshop Theme
In the digital era our ‘digital personas’ and the data streams we create become more important in determining how we relate to others, the services to which we get access and in shaping our life-chances. Whilst the extent of citizens’ involvement with digital technologies is easy to see, the processes associated with making digital technologies work, despite their significance, are opaque and difficult to understand. This workshop aims to examine contemporary citizen engagement mechanisms in order to understand the opportunities and constraints of participation in the digital era. Such practices include surveys, focus groups, public meetings, consultation exercises, citizens’ juries and panels. The workshop will focus on how these mechanisms have been used to engage citizens in relation to issues associated with privacy. A further focus will be to examine whether new digital technologies themselves offer opportunities to design citizen-centric engagement mechanisms and if so what challenges are posed to access, representation and effectiveness. Our use of digital services can also provide a wealth of information that can be used to inform public policy and service development. In this respect, participation in engagement activities happens by simply being digital. But how then may citizens engage with the production of digital innovations which so affect their privacy and their life chances?

The workshop aims to explore the implications of citizen-centred engagement mechanisms and citizens’ views about privacy in the digital era. Digitised versions of traditional participatory mechanisms and new digital ways of participating through the co-production of goods, services and public policy will be examined.

The workshop will seek to address a range of issues and questions, including:

• What mechanisms are useful for engaging citizens about issues associated with privacy?
• Do new digital technologies offer new ways to engage citizens?
• To what extent does the co-production of digital services imply a degree of citizen engagement?
• What are the methodological and practical issues associated with designing effective engagement mechanisms?
• Does engagement lead to better services and public policy?
• What is the citizen experience of being involved in such mechanisms?


Mhairi Quiroz-Aitken, University of Edinburgh: Public engagement with data science: Reflections on past experiences and future approaches.

Malcolm Oswald, University of Manchester: Health data, privacy and the public good: what can we learn from 4 citizens’ juries?

Tjerk Timan, Tilburg University: Turning surveillance on its head: The role and (double?) meaning of participation in studying surveillance.

Sally Dibb, University of Coventry, Engaging Citizens in the Privacy and Security Debate: Social Science meets the Citizen Summit Method

William Webster and Charles Leleux, University of Stirling: Smart governance and the co-production of public policy and services

Routledge Studies in Surveillance Book Series
CRISP intends to incorporate the presentations at the workshop into an edited collection for the new Routledge Studies in Surveillance Book Series, which is to be launched in 2017, and which is edited by the CRISP Directors.

Contact Details
T: @CrispSurv

Re-inventing privacy for the 21st century – why and how?

Visiting researcher Dr Tjerk Timan will deliver a seminar entitled ‘Re-inventing privacy for the 21st century – why and how?’ on Wednesday 15th February from 12 – 2pm. The seminar will be held in Lecture Room 2 in the School of Man
agement, The Gateway Building, North Haugh, St Andrews.


Due to novel ICTs, classical distinctions of spaces such as the home, the workplace, or public space are falling apart. One of the consequences of the blurring of such spaces is that core values in society are being influenced and modified by these new technologies: they are being challenged. One of the values I am interested in is privacy, be it in the home or in our streets. Not only socially the value of privacy is changing due to novel networks of information that are permeating almost all corners of life, also legally and regulatory, things are falling apart. Think for instance of the legal principle of “my home is my castle’ that is under threat due to technologies that allows to ‘look inside’, or the protection of personal data and belongings, that is under threat when phones are seized as an ‘accidental extra’ during an arrest.

Where the EU prides itself with being a forerunner when it comes to the regulation and protection of citizens’ data, there might be more at stake than only data, or ‘informational’ privacy in society. In a recent paper, we propose a new typology for privacy, in which we go beyond privacy as data protection only. In this talk, I will try to explain what we aim to do in this project, I will briefly highlight some cases and some theoretical lines of inquiry , to be ending up in a discussions that can take on many different directions. Guiding questions there can be: “is privacy still an adequate term when describing what is at stake?”, “what kinds of conceptual or regulatory solutions can be found to these problems” or “How and to what extend can we develop alternative paths of technology-development that is more privacy/ human-rights-friendly

Please let Kirstie Ball know if you would like to attend

CRISP St Andrews welcomes Tjerk Timan

CRISP is delighted to welcome Dr Tjerk Timan to St Andrews for a on
e month visiting scholarship. Tjerk will be working on participatory methods fotjerkr use in privacy research during his stay.  He is a PostDoc researcher at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology & Society (TILT), where he is researching new privacy issues in the 21st century. He is also a WP leader for the h2020 project MicroMole. Previously, he was a lecturer at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, where he was providing courses on digital humanities, big data and visualization methods. He completed his Ph.D at the University of Twente, The Netherlands, in which he investigated emerging and existing technologies of surveillance in urban nightlife districts. His research interest cover STS, surveillance, privacy, regulation of technology and user studies.

His profile and publications can be seen here and his project website here

Post Doctoral Research Fellowship Available

big-data-surveillanceCRISP at St Andrews has a one year post doctoral fellowship available, working on the SSHRC funded ‘Big Data Surveillance’ project.  You can find out more about the post here. The closing date for applications is the 10th January 2017.

The work, which is for one year, will focus on the political economy of algorithms in marketing settings. The post is based in St Andrews School of Management and will involve fieldwork in the UK.

Informal enquiries are welcome so please contact Kirstie Ball directly

PhD Studentship Available: Consumer Data Donation

A Dlight-ideaoctoral Studentship is available at the School of Management, University of St Andrews, April 2017 start 

CRISP is the UK partner of the SSHRC funded Big Data Surveillance project, led by Queens University in Canada. We currently have funding available for a PhD studentship to complete research that will contribute to the project’s findings. The studentships are funded by SSHRC and by The School of Management at the University of St Andrews.

The Big Data Surveillance project aims to understand the impact of big data analytics in everyday life and this studentship concerns the phenomenon of ‘data donation’ in big data.  ‘Consumer data donation’ involves consumers parting voluntarily, even altruistically, with their consumption data in return for customized products and services. Such initiatives exist in energy, transport and healthcare sectors and the concept is growing in importance.  Data donation adds to the multiple data streams now analysed by marketers under the rubric of ‘big data’, but raises ethical problems around consent, purpose specification, data limitation as well as questions of surveilled subjectivity. The PhD will address the uptake of data donation in different commercial contexts and applicants may propose any project around this theme.

‌The ‌successful applicant will have the opportunity to work with a number of scholars and students associated with the Big Data Surveillance project at Queen’s University, the University of Victoria, the University of Alberta, the University of Ottawa and University of Toronto, as well as those at the University of St Andrews School of Management and the Centre for Research into Information, Surveillance and Privacy. The studentship will be supervised by Professor Kirstie Ball.

For more information about the studentships and how to apply, please see this page, or contact Kirstie directly:  The deadline for applications is 30th January 2017

Call for Papers: Religions Consuming Surveillance Workshop, March 2017 in Edinburgh

Faith communities use surveillance technologies to protect their buildings and worshipperslight-net. Religious leaders sometimes use their equivalent of customer data management software to track attendance numbers or to better understand the profile of their community. Individual religious believers engage in surveillance of one another through social networking sites.

Surveillance technologies are not neutral devices but shape their users. How then are religious practices being shaped by not only surveillance directed towards religious groups but, more importantly for this particular workshop, by the use or consumption of surveillance? What do faith communities need to learn from surveillance studies? What might the field of surveillance studies learn from the particular faith-based concerns of religious believers who are users of surveillance technologies?

In this second in a series of three workshops, the main presenters will include Dr Tim Hutchings (University of Stockholm), Dr Jason Pridmore and  Dr Daniel Trottier (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, Rotterdam), Rabbi Ute Steyer (Stockholm), Very Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth (Provost of St Mary’s Scottish Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow, Scotland) Dr Susanne Wigorts Yngvesson (Stockholm School of Theology); and Dr Eric Stoddart (University of St Andrews).

Established scholars, doctoral students and religious practitioners are welcome to propose papers. Academics from the fields of, for example, sociology, philosophy of religion, theology, religious studies, and cultural studies are particularly welcome. It is anticipated that faith practitioners from a range of traditions will be represented.

The workshop will run from 2pm on Monday 20 March – 1pm on Wednesday 22 March 2017. It will be held at a venue in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Places are limited for this subsidised event. There is no registration fee but participants must apply for a place. Refreshments and lunch will be provided but accommodation and dinner is arranged by participants at their own expense. Some funds are available to support doctoral students and early career researchers with travel costs.

There will be a mix of plenary presentations and shorter papers. Proposals for papers (20 mins duration) are due by 15th December 2016. Please send your abstract and title (no more than 500 words) along with contact details and brief biographical information to Dr Eric Stoddart Preliminary enquiries are welcome at this address.

Applications for financial assistance with travel from doctoral students and early career researchers should be made in writing at the same time.

Further information about the Surveillance & Religion Network:

CRISP’s first PhD student, Sara Degli Esposti graduates


Sara Degli Esposti (@survgaze), CRISPs first PhD student, was awarded her PhD by the Open University this week. Sara’s thesis, which was funded jointly by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and an Open University Charter Studentship was entitled ‘Big Data Protection’. She was supervised by Kirstie Ball, Liz Daniel and Maureen Meadows.

Using survey data from 200 British companies, Dr Degli Esposti investigated whether companies who claimed to use big data analytics in a sophisticated way were more or less likely to comply with Data Protection Regulation. The results are fascinating. Overall, companies who claimed to use big data analytics – which are termed ‘analytical competitors’ – were highly compliant with data protection regulations. As they used data intensively, they understood the need to have high quality data and they were more likely to have developed a privacy culture. However Sara revealed a conflict between the need that analytical competitors have to collect more diverse datasets and the data protection principles of purpose limitation and limited data retention.

Sara is currently directing the ISMS Forum in Spain but is looking around for an academic position now she has her PhD. Congratulations Dr Degli Esposti!

CRISP Doctoral School 2016: A Great Success

Last week saw the third biannual CRISP doctoral training school, this time hosted doc school 2016by Edinburgh University. We were delighted to welcome 21 doctoral students from all over the world. The continents of South and North America as well as the four corners of Europe were represented in the cohort. Students listened to expert lectures addressing questions concerning surveillance and the internet, security, privacy, philosophy and religion. They also participated in academic skills workshops, culminating in our Epic Research Proposal Workshop ™ which is in equal measure challenging and enjoyable. Off campus activities included the stunning CRISP annual lecture, delivered by Duncan Campbell, field trips to the Glasgow City Observatory, a film viewing and lecture. The week was rounded off with a fish supper followed by an energetic Ceilidh. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the students for their engagement as well as the academic staff who contributed: Dr Michael Nagenborg (Twente), Duncan Campbell, Nik Williams (Scottish PEN), Alex Stobart (Mydex), Dr Andrew Neal (Edinburgh), Dr Kami Vaniea (Edinburgh), Professor Mike Nellis (Strathclyde), Professor Phil Taylor (Strathclyde), Dr Heather Morgan (Aberdeen), Dr Claudia Pagliari (Edinburgh), Dr Richard Jones (Edinburgh), Dr Eric Stoddart (St Andrews) and Dr Randoph Lewis (Texas at Austin).  Once we’ve compiled all of the feedback we’ll start planning the next one: Stirling or St Andrews 2018! Which will it be? Watch this space!

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Available

Department of Computer Science, University of St Andrews 

Tristan Henderson, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at the Univnetwork-cablesersity of St Andrews is recruiting for a research fellow to work on a new Wellcome Trust funded project on predicting consent in online social network health research.

Online social networks (OSNs) such a s Facebook and Twitter are used by hundreds of millions of people daily. This popularity means that they form an attractive venue for health research, used both by patients for seeking support, and researchers seeking to gather data about behaviour. Studying people on such services is fraught with ethical challenges, however, owing to the sensitive nature of the topics being discussed. Concerns about privacy and surveillance mean that OSN users might not wish to share data with researchers, and researchers might inadvertently gather data to which consent had not been granted.

This new project will investigate whether it is possible to predict when social media users consent to share data with stakeholders, specifically in health research, such as researchers and clinicians. We aim to make the consent process better reflect the context in which data were created, and respect users’ preferences about which data should be made available to which stakeholders. For example, someone seeking support from their peers because they are anxious about an upcoming medical procedure might not want this shared with medical researchers, while they may want reports about the side effects of their medication to be made available to clinicians.

Our previous work shows that consent for sharing social media data with researchers is driven by the purpose of research. More recently we found that traditional `informed consent’ forms are insufficient for capturing willingness to share social media data. By applying a model based on “contextual integrity” we improve the accuracy of consent without burdening participants with consent requests, by detecting whether participants conform to social norms for sharing data with researchers.

The research fellow will explore whether it is possible to extend our contextual integrity consent work to health research. It would be suited to someone with an HCI and ethics background, and/or with some experience in machine learning. The project is initially funded for one year through a Wellcome Trust Seed Award, but these awards are intended to lead to full multi-year follow-on projects.

The full details can be found on the St Andrews vacancies web site. Informal queries are welcomed by e-mail to The closing date is 30 June 2016.