Surveillance and Social Justice May 2017

image Published: May 26, 2017

The work of the SRT Project Surveillance and Social Justice working group has now ended as the final report was presented to the General Assembly in May 2017.

As part of this work, the Church of Scotland hosted a successful event at this year's Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Borders, Benefits and Biomedicine: Surveillance and Social Justice took place on 4 April and the audience heard from SRT Committee members Iain Mitchell QC and Dr  Eric Stoddart.  Iain and Eric were joined on the panel by Prof Bill Buchanan of Edinburgh Napier's Cyber Academy and the event was chaired by Prof Kirsty Ball, University of St Andrews School of Management.



Surveillance is not simply an activity of the security and intelligences services – as portrayed in the 007 or Bourne movies. Data-management is integral to, for example, identifying who needs to be supported through social welfare benefits. At the same time, surveillance systems can be almost insurmountable hurdles against receiving the benefits to which one is entitled. Ken Loach’s new film, I Daniel Blake, tells a story which, although disputed by the government, many people testify to being an apt description of the injustices they face.

Experiencing surveillance can be quite different for people of colour than those who, because white, are considered generally to be less of a risk. Muslims, or people ‘looking Muslim’ encounter discriminatory surveillance in ways that are bound up political agendas and public misperceptions. The Working Group has been focusing its discussions on three particular areas: bio-data in medical research, borders where people are required to identify themselves, and the bureaucracy of the benefits system.

Using the idea of ‘surveillance from the Cross of Christ’ the group has reflected on re-orientating surveillance in the light of God’s relational way of knowing, and what that might mean for treating privacy as a gift for human dignity and flourishing.

The report hopes to stimulate Christians who are both subjects and professional users of surveillance to affirm and challenge its value.

View the full report here

A discussion starter leaflet will be avaialble shortly.

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