Citizen Lab Postdoctoral Fellow Christopher Parsons published a paper titled “Beyond Privacy: Articulating the Broader Harms of Pervasive Mass Surveillance” in the Media and Communication journal. The paper explores how dominant theories of privacy grapple with the pervasive mass surveillance activities undertaken by western signals intelligence activities, including those of the NSA, CSE, GCHQ, GCSB, and ASD.

Parsons goes on to argue that these theories do not provide sufficiently holistic accounts of how mass surveillance affects the basic elements of a democracy.He suggests that theory from the Frankfurt School can be consulted by academics for a more expansive examination and critique of contemporary signals intelligence surveillance practices. 

The core of Parsons’ argument is that mass surveillance erodes essential boundaries between public and private spheres by compromising populations’ abilities to freely communicate with one another. In the process, this erodes the integrity of democratic processes and institutions.

Read the abstract or download the full paper here.