ACR212 – Crime, Surveillance and Technology

Trimester 1 (March – June 2017)

Trimester 3 (November 2016 – February 2017)

Unit Chair: Adam Molnar

Nearly everyday we hear about new uses of technology and surveillance in policing and national security. Automated number plate scanners are used by police to regulate traffic and gather information about drivers. Body-worn cameras are introduced to provide a record of police interactions with citizens. Police and security now routinely access sensitive mobile phone records from your telecommunications provider, or social network services as a way to identify relationships between individuals and places. Automated facial recognition technology is a core part of ‘securing’ Australia’s borders, and unmanned drones patrol the skies.

While some of these surveillance technologies have been developed as deliberate tools for criminal investigation or intelligence, many of these law enforcement and national security strategies rely on data that is generated through routine communications in our ubiquitous digital environment.

These developments offer unprecedented capacities for technology-led surveillance in law enforcement and security intelligence. However, many of these trends raise serious concerns about the societal risks posed through the use of technologies to monitor and regulate innocent populations. They also pose significant challenges to privacy, ongoing issues of racial discrimination, the rule of law, and civil liberties.

This unit serves as an introduction to critical studies of modern technology, surveillance, and crime response in law enforcement. Drawing on fields of criminology, surveillance studies, science and technology studies, and privacy literatures, participants will critically investigate technology-led responses to crime control, and will consider the associated social, legal, and political implications of such practices.

Attention is given to the social construction of technological systems in the criminal justice system through a number of ‘case-study’ technologies, such as closed-circuit television (CCTV), automated number-plate recognition (ANPR), drones, predictive policing and algorithms, telecommunication and internet surveillance, biometric technologies, body-worn cameras, and government hacking. We will contrast how government agencies frame the use of technology as a solution to crime with the actual design, and uses, of technology in operational environments. Our discussions will consider the far-reaching (and often unanticipated) consequences of their use in law enforcement and intelligence contexts. As a unit, we will be participating in cutting-edge discussions about the benefits and drawbacks to the explosive growth of surveillance technologies in policing and national security.

AIX497 – Theories of Power and Control in Criminological Thought 

Trimester 1 (March – June 2017)

Unit Chair: Adam Molnar

Theories of Power and Control and Criminological Thought is an honours-level seminar focused on approaches to power and social control that have informed the field of critical criminological study. The unit follows a sequence of related problématiques that reflect different considerations of power as they relate to issues and problems that criminologists routinely grapple with. We cover a range of areas spanning from liberal approaches to power, sovereignty, states of exception, power/knowledge, governmentality, biopolitics, as well as race and orientalism. The intention of the unit is to familiarise students with different approaches to understanding what power is, how it is exercised, and how we might come to understand and critique conceptualisations of power. Our engagements are designed to inform students’ thesis projects in the criminology honours program.

Ongoing Units

  • Crime, Surveillance and Society (Summer / Autumn 2017)
  • Introduction to Criminology