Conferences held

“New Philosophical Perspectives on Surveillance and Control: Beyond the Privacy versus Security Debate” (5–6 November 2015)

FRIAS Junior Researcher Conference, Freiburg

Scientific coordinators:

  • Elisa Orrù (Centre for Security and Society and Husserl-Archive)
  • Sebastian Volkmann (Centre for Security and Society and Husserl-Archive)
  • Maria Grazia Porcedda (European University Institute)

Conference topic:

Issues of surveillance and control have been tremendously present in the media’s headlines in the past decade and many examples can be named: The debate about the deployment of body scanners at airports raised strong objections to what some people considered a “virtual strip search”; the continued legal and political battle over communications data retention across Europe once again reignited after the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015; the revelation of a vast network of surveillance programmes conducted by the NSA resulted a continued debate about governmental overreach and the existence of a digital surveillance state. All these examples unveil two recurring and related features of security-orientated surveillance and control: the pervasive use of technologies able to collect personal information and the preventative, intelligence-led approach to public and national security.

Both in and outside academia, the current debate consequently features questions mostly framed in terms of a privacy versus security dilemma or a trade-off model: in order to achieve (more) security, we have to sacrifice (a quantum of) privacy.

However, it is patent that the impact of large-scale surveillance measures goes far beyond security and privacy matters. On the one hand, techniques of surveillance and control are indispensable tools for exercising and generating power and for establishing social order. On the other hand, the negative effects can reach as far as threatening the very fabric of social and democratic life. This can happen, for example, by “chilling” the societal climate to a point where citizens refrain from taking legitimate actions in fear of negative repercussions.

Although such aspects of surveillance and control are widely known, we are still missing a theoretical framework to fully understand their meaning and consequences. The workshop aims at bringing together leading experts and young researchers in order to discuss the implications of practices of surveillance and control for contemporary societies. We strive to identify the most promising philosophical paths to developing theoretical tools that will allow us to better understand those challenges, which are likely to shape much of the 21st century.

Conference Programme | Conference Website

“Sicherheit in einer offenen Gesellschaft: Technische, rechtliche und moralische Herausforderungen durch neue Sicherheitstechnologien” (6 November 2012)

PhD-Symposium at the Centre for Security and Society, Freiburg


  • Lena Sophie Eckert
  • Sebastian Volkmann
  • Stefan Weidemann

Sicherheitstechnologien transformieren in zunehmendem Maße das Leben in unserer Gesellschaft. Die Folgen des Einsatzes von Sicherheitstechnologien für Individuum und Öffentlichkeit sind jedoch ambivalent zu bewerten. So verspricht etwa die automatische Auswertung digitaler Spuren in sozialen Netzwerken einerseits größeren Schutz (z.B. vor Amokläufern), andererseits können derartige Maßnahmen schnell selbst zur Bedrohung für grundlegende gesellschaftliche Werte werden (z.B. für den Schutz der Privatsphäre) und das Fundament der offenen Gesellschaft schleichend aushöhlen. Diese Bedenken können zum Teil zwar durch weitere rein technische Maßnahmen ausgeräumt werden. Letztlich müssen derartige Ansätze jedoch frühzeitig in einem lösungsorientierten Dialog zwischen Sicherheitstechnikern und Sicherheitsethikern reflektiert werden, dessen Ziel der Erhalt der offenen Gesellschaft ist.

Im Rahmen des Symposiums werden Doktorandinnen und Doktroanden aus den vielfältigen Disziplinen der Sicherheitsforschung ihre Forschungsprojekte und Ansätze präsentieren und zur Diskussion stellen.

Conference Programme (PDF)