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BC Civil Liberties joins major research project on surveillance

Attention News Editors

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) is announcing its participation in a new research project investigating the vulnerabilities created by ‘big data’. Queen’s University Surveillance Studies Centre director David Lyon has been awarded $2.5 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for the Big Data Surveillance Partnership that brings together national and international academic partners and civil society advocates to research emerging surveillance tactics and trends.

“Big data is more than just ‘more data’. It is unprecedented amounts of data, linked and analysed in ways never before imagined. Predictive analyses have seen huge uptake in fields ranging from health care to education to policing. This affects us in everything from apps claiming to determine credit ratings based on our Facebook friends to ‘risk scoring’ for national security purposes. The implications for individuals’ rights are vast. Not only is big data a massive threat to privacy, but decision-by-algorithm affects due process rights, informational rights and can even threaten equality rights when prejudicial stereotyping is part of analytical processes. Big data surveillance is a leading 21st century civil liberties and human rights arena and we are delighted to be working on this critically important project,”  said Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, BCCLA.

The research project will document how organizations track activities, habits and locations in real time, how this data is used and how the tracking and anticipating of things like social media use, household consumption or voting in elections affects ordinary people’s daily lives.

Research findings and updates will be available at www.bccla.org and at the Queen’s Surveillance Studies Centre.