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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 8, 2021

A Story of Surveillance? Past, Present, Prediction

  • Sille Obelitz Søe ORCID logo EMAIL logo
From the journal SATS


In this essay, I will explore the interrelations and differences between the human and digital technology through the lens of surveillance and prediction modeling: the building of profiles. I will provide some philosophical considerations on surveillance and surveillance practices especially in light of datafication and digitalization – including some epistemological considerations with regard to the underlying assumptions in algorithmic construction of profiles and human identities. The starting point is accidental encounters with the same person in the streets of Copenhagen.

Corresponding author: Sille Obelitz Søe, PhD, Tenure Track Assistant Professor in Philosophy of Information, Department of Communication, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, E-mail:

Award Identifier / Grant number: 8018-00041B


In June 2018, during the Surveillance Studies Network bi-annual conference in Aarhus, I told Bryce C. Newell the story of the random encounters with The Woman. I would like to thank Bryce for encouraging me to write up my story as A Story of Surveillance? Further, this research was conducted within the project ‘Don’t take it Personal’: Privacy and Information in an Algorithmic Age, which is generously funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark, grant number: 8018-00041B. I wish to thank my colleagues in the project Bjarki Valtysson, Jens-Erik Mai, Jesper Pagh, Johan Lau Munkholm, and Rikke Frank Jørgensen for fruitful discussions along the way. Last, but not least, I would like to thank the anonymous reviewer for thoughtful, constructive, encouraging, and kind comments.


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Published Online: 2021-07-08
Published in Print: 2021-07-27

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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