Surveillance theory and its implications for law

Tjerk Timan, Maša Galič, Bert-Jaap Koops

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter provides an overview of key surveillance theories and their implications for law and regulation. It presents three stages of theories that characterise changes in thinking about surveillance in society and the disciplining, controlling, and entertaining functions of surveillance. Beginning with Bentham’s Panopticons and Foucault’s panopticism to discipline surveillees, surveillance theory then develops accounts of surveillant assemblages and networked surveillance that control consumers and their data doubles, to finally branch out to theorising current modes of surveillance, such as sousveillance and participatory surveillance. Next, surveillance technologies and practices associated with these stages are discussed. The chapter concludes by high-lighting the implications for regulators and lawmakers, who face the challenge of regulating converging, hybrid surveillant infrastructures and assemblages both in their context-dependent specificity and in their cumulative effect on citizen/consumers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Law, Regulation, and Technology
EditorsRoger Brownsword, Eloise Scotford, Karen Yeung
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Surveillance
  • Law
  • Regulation
  • Theory


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