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Surveillance After September 11

Surveillance After September 11

David Lyon

ISBN: 978-0-745-63181-3

Sep 2003

208 pages

Select type: Paperback

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Prominent among the quests for post-9/11 security are developments in surveillance, especially at national borders. These developments are not new, but many of them have been extended and intensified. The result? More and more people and populations are counted as “suspicious” and, at the same time, surveillance techniques become increasingly opaque and secretive. Lyon argues that in the aftermath of 9/11 there have been qualitative changes in the security climate: diverse databases containing personal information are being integrated; biometric identifiers, such as iris scans, are becoming more popular; consumer data are merged with those obtained for policing and intelligence, both nationally and across borders. This all contributes to the creation of ever-widening webs of surveillance. But these systems also sort people into categories for differential treatment, the most obvious case being that of racial profiling. This book assesses the consequences of these trends. Lyon argues that while extraordinary legal measures and high-tech systems are being adopted, promises made on their behalf - that terrorism can be prevented - are hard to justify. Furthermore, intensifying surveillance will have social consequences whose effects could be far-reaching: the undermining of social trust and of democratic participation.


Chapter 1: Understanding Surveillance.

Chapter 2: Intensifying Surveillance.

Chapter 3: Automating Surveillance.

Chapter 4: Integrating Surveillance.

Chapter 5: Globalizing Surveillance.

Chapter 6: Resisting Surveillance.



"Since September 11, surveillance has been stepped up throughout most of the world. Governments and businesses monitor personal behavior and analyze a host of data that individuals are often unaware they generate. But both privacy and open political participation are under challenge. In this context, David Lyon offers a welcome overview and a wise sense of the many issues that intersect in new forms and intensity of surveillance. He neither exaggerates nor underestimates the major issues before us now.”

Craig Calhoun, Social Science Research Council, New York

“David Lyon provides a chilling and comprehensive account of the surveillance response to 9/11 by nation-states and corporations. His writing is exceptionally clear and graceful, his scholarship is impeccable, and his judgment is fair and wise.”Mark Poster, University of California

“A devastating critique on the attempt to engineer security through ever-increasing surveillance capabilities. Lyon brilliantly shows us how these begin to function as a clandestine power that erodes democracy in the name of our wellbeing.”

Saskia Sassen, author of Globalization and its Discontents

"Surveillance After September 11 provides the reader with a very useful analysis of past and current security trends, along with predictions of possible future devlopments, in the context of global social change. Lyon's book provides us with a useful, relevant, clear-minded starting-point."

International Journal of Contemporary Sociology

  • a timely work on a topic that is constantly in the news;
  • considers fundamental questions about the wisdom of reliance on new technologies, the willingness to trample civil liberties in a quest for security, and the ways that simple social virtues such as trust and care can be corroded;
  • based on ongoing research by an academic who has worked in the field for over a decade;
  • addresses ethical and political questions that are in danger of being left to politicians or high-tech companies to discuss;
  • presents issues that all of us encounter on a daily basis and hence has a relevance to everyone.