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Lawrence Frohman
SUNY Research Foundation, Stony Brook (Stony Brook, NY 11794-0001)
Surveillance, Privacy and the Politics of Personal Information in West Germany, 1960-1990

Surveillance and privacy are two of the primary concepts through which we seek to make sense of modernity and of a world in which virtually all forms of social interaction are now digitally mediated. They have already become--and are certain to remain--two of the most contentious policy issues of our age. From 1960 to 1990 West Germany pioneered both the use of new information technologies and computer privacy laws to regulate the processing of personal information. I argue that during these years the systematization of population surveillance gave rise to a new form of social politics, the politics of personal information, to new discourses on privacy, which became the primary means of theorizing the expansion of such surveillance, and to a corresponding privacy-based social movement. What can these precocious West German developments tell us about privacy, surveillance, and social power in modern information societies?

[Grant products]

Project fields:
European History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2014 – 8/31/2014