Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 20, 2020

A Neo-Republican Theory of Just State Surveillance

Patrick Taylor Smith

Abstract

This paper develops a novel, neo-republican account of just state surveillance in the information age. The goal of state surveillance should be to avoid and prevent domination, both public and private. In light of that conception of justice, the paper makes three substantive points. First, it argues that modern state surveillance based upon information technology and predicated upon a close partnership with the tech sector gives the state significant power and represents a serious potential source of domination. Second, it argues that, nonetheless, state surveillance can serve legitimate republican ends and so unilateral and private technological attempts to block it may be wrongful. Third, it argues that, despite the serious normative failings of current institutions, state surveillance can be justly regulated and made accountable through a legal liability regime that incentivizes tech company intermediaries to ally with civil society groups in order to safeguard the privacy rights of potential subjects of state surveillance.

Acknowledgements

I owe much gratitude to the workshop ‘The Ethics of Mass State Surveillance’ at Karlrsuhe Institute of Technology. I owe additional thanks to Kevin Macnish, Peter Königs, and two anonymous reviewers.

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Published Online: 2020-06-20
Published in Print: 2020-05-26

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