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My work has been funded by a wider variety of Canadian and international funding organizations, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the National Science Foundation, and Microsoft Corp.

I have held visiting professorial positions at Harvard University, the University of California Berkeley, the University of New South Wales, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the University of Toronto and (in 2023) the Institute for Information Law (IVIR) at the University of Amsterdam.

My work is inherently interdisciplinary — informed by scholarship in political science, law, sociology, technology studies, history, philosophy and others.

My most recent work has examined the uses of personal data in elections, and what can happen to our democratic rights when those data are abused or misused.

Here are some illustrative recent publications.

Understanding the Micro in Political Micro-targeting:  An Analysis of Facebook Digital Advertising in the 2019 Federal Canadian Election”  Canadian Journal of Communication. 46(3):  431-459 (2021)

“Data-driven elections,”  Internet Policy Review, Vol 8. No. 1 (Special Issue, co-edited with David Lyon)

Data-Driven Elections in Canada: What we might expect in the 2019 Federal Election Campaign, Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law, Vol 13 (September 2019): 301-313

“Data-Driven Elections and Political Parties in Canada:  Privacy Implications, Privacy Policies and Privacy Obligations,” Canadian Journal of Law and Technology, Vol 16, No 2 (November 2018); 195-226

Voter databases, micro-targeting, and data protection law: can political parties campaign in Europe as they do in North America?  International Data Privacy Law Vol 6, No. 4:  261-275 (December 2016)

Trends in Voter Surveillance in Western Societies: Privacy Intrusions and Democratic Implications.” Surveillance and Society, Vol 13, No. 3/4 (2015).

The Politics of Privacy and the Privacy of Politics: Parties, Elections and Voter Surveillance in Western Democracies,” First Monday, Vol. 18, No. 8 (August 5, 2013).

I have also written about surveillance more generally, and how new technologies have changed how citizens are monitored in their daily lives.  Much of this work was conducted in collaboration with my colleagues at the Surveillance Studies Center at Queens University.  For example:

Transparent Lives:  Surveillance in Canada (Athabasca University Press, 2014), co-edited with Kevin Haggerty, Valerie Steeves, and David Lyon.   This book was the culmination of the New Transparency Project.  Authored by a multi-disciplinary team of surveillance experts across Canada, it explains why and how surveillance is expanding ”mostly unchecked” into every facet of our lives.

Privacy and Surveillance: The Multidisciplinary Literature on the Capture, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information in Cyberspace, in W. Dutton, The Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 486-508, with Christopher Parsons.

Around the time of the Winter Olympic games in Vancouver, we published Security Games: Surveillance and Control at Mega-Events (London: Routledge, 2011, co-edited with Kevin Haggerty).  Mega-events have become opportunities for experiments in monitoring people and place, and important moments in the development and dispersal of surveillance.

I have also worked on identification and identity cards. In Playing the Identity Card:  Surveillance, Security and Identification in Global Perspective (London:  Routledge, 2008) David Lyon and I examined the politics of citizen identification in different countries, and the pressures for enhanced technological forms of identification.

I have written about Surveillance and Mobilities,  Surveillance and Society, Vol 1, No. 4 (2004) (with Priscilla Regan).

Unsafe at any Altitude: The Comparative Politics of No-Fly Lists in the United States and Canada, in M. B. Salter, Politics at the Airport (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008).

What Happens when you Book an Airline Ticket? The Collection and Processing of Passenger Data Post-9/11, in E. Zureik and M. B. Salter, Global Surveillance and Policing (Portland: Wilan, 2005).

How should we try to protect privacy when personal data flows instantaneously and globally.   Much of my work has centered on the international dimensions of the issue.  Such as:

“The Council of Europe’s Modernized Convention on Personal Data Protection:  Why Canada should consider Accession”.   CIGI Paper no. 246 (November 2020)

“Global Data Protection:  Adequate Laws, Accountable Organizations or Data Localization,” Proceedings of the 2018 ACM International Joint Conference and 2018 International Symposium on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing and Wearable Computers, pp. 880-90 (October 2018) (with Smith Oduro-Marfo)

The European General Data Protection Regulation: An instrument for the globalization of privacy standards? Information Polity, vol. 23, No. 2 (June 2018)

“If these Canadians lived in the United States, how would they protect their privacy?” First Monday, Volume 22, No. 3 (March 6, 2017) (with Priscilla M. Regan and Robin M. Bayley)

“The Geo-Politics of Personal Data,” Harvard International Review, December 14, 2012.

Colin reading Privacy GovernanceMy earlier work was particularly focused on privacy governance, and the various legal, technical, and self-regulatory tools that different countries were deploying to address the problem.

My first book was Regulating Privacy: Data Protection and Public Policy in Europe and the United States (Cornell University Press, 1992)

In 2006, I published The Governance of Privacy:  Policy Instruments in Global Perspective with Charles Raab (MIT Press).

In 2018, we revisited our arguments in the light of a different technological era:  Revisiting the Governance of Privacy: Contemporary Policy Instruments in Global Perspective” Regulation and Governance, vol. 12, no. 3 (September 2018) (with Charles D. Raab)

I have also taken a strong interest in the phenomenon of privacy advocacy and activism, and the individuals and groups within civil society who identify as privacy advocates.

The Privacy Advocates: Resisting the Spread of Surveillance (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008). (Introductory chapter available in PDF format here.)

Privacy Advocacy from the Inside and the Outside: Implications for the Politics of Personal Data Protection in Networked Societies,” Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, Vol. 13, No. 2 (April 2011), pp. 125-141.

Storming the Barricades so we can all be Private Together: Everyday Surveillance and the Politics of Privacy Advocacy,” Leviathan, Vol. 25 (2010) “Sichtbarkeitsregime: œberwachung, Sicherheit und Privatheit im 21 Jahrhundert,” pp. 299-320.