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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 20, 2020

Privacy, the Internet of Things and State Surveillance: Handling Personal Information within an Inhuman System

  • Adam Henschke EMAIL logo


The Internet of Things (IoT) is, in part, an information handling system that can remove humans from the information handling process. The particular problem explored is how we are to understand privacy when considering informational systems that handle personal information in ways that impact people’s lives when there is no human operator in direct contact with that personal information. I argue that these new technologies need to take concepts like privacy into account, but also, that we ought also to take these technologies into account to reconsider and perhaps reconceptualise privacy. This paper argues that while an inhuman system like the IoT does not necessarily violate the interpersonal privacy of people, if the IoT is used as part of a state surveillance program, a political notion of privacy may be violated.

Funding statement: This work was supported by European Research Council, Funder Id:, Grant Number: Project Title: Global Terrorism and Collective Mor, Australian Research Council, Funder Id:, Grant Number: DP180103439: Intelligence And National Security: E.


I thank CJ O’Connor for useful feedback on this paper, Kevin Macnish for insightful discussions on the nature of privacy, and the anonymous reviewers and editor for their useful feedback, comments, and suggestions.

Research for this paper was supported by funding from the Australia Research Council for DP180103439, ‘Intelligence and National Security: Ethics, Efficacy and Accountability’ and the European Research Council grant on ‘Global Terrorism and Collective Moral Responsibility: Redesigning Military, Police and Intelligence Institutions in Liberal Democracies.’


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

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