This is a piece by Charles Raab, a long time member of the Surveillance Studies Network that he wrote on 29 October 2013 on a blog of the Political Studies Association.
Studying Surveillance: The Contribution of Political Science?
The saturation of media coverage of surveillance and spying (including GCHQ, the Snowden revelations, Mrs. Merkel’s mobile), together with the furore over phone hacking, has elevated the salience of information and privacy issues in the public and political consciousness. Whether this attention will be converted into changes in policy and practice remains to be seen, as new public issues inevitably supplant this current crop in the attention of the media and the public, and as heated controversy over surveillance cools while the issue is kicked into the long grass. Meanwhile, long-awaited changes in the regulation of practices concerning personal data are in train in the EU, not motivated by the current spate of revelations as the media sometimes implies, but given a new impetus by them. We should not suppose that the main interest in these matters is owing to the involvement of world leaders, celebrities, or putative terrorists as the perpetrators or targets of surveillance and its invasion of privacy and related freedoms and rights. There is a fresh opportunity for political scientists to turn their attention to this cluster of issues and conflicts, to look beyond them, and to underpin the work of pundits and activists with research and thinking of a more fundamental kind.