Banal Surveillance: Unravelling the Causes of and Remedies for the Privacy Paradox

The Banal Surveillance (BANSUR) project studies how and why specific forms of tracing behaviours have become regarded as normal, be it in work life, at leisure, or when using novel IT technologies.


The privacy paradox describes a common phenomenon, namely that people tend in interviews to be concerned about privacy, but continue to use technologies that trace their behaviours. Why do we actually find it inevitable that our communications in digital platforms can be monitored by third parties? And why is it that a majority of people say that they care about their privacy but choose not to do much about it? Our starting point for research is that surveillance today has become banal, and this banality makes it difficult for us to reflect on surveillance morally and politically.

This project sets out to analyze the banalization of surveillance in connection to (1) the history of surveillance technologies, (2) transformative moments in contemporary politics, and (3) the experiences of surveillance from the perspective of vulnerable people. Results are relevant to R&D in the technology sector, policy-makers, experts in research organizations, the public and NGOs.


Persons involved:

Asko Lehmuskallio
Principal Investigator, Professor
Tampere University
asko.lehmuskallio [at]

Heikki Heikkilä
Associate Professor
Tampere University
heikki.heikkila [at]

Matti Kortesoja
Postdoctoral Researcher
Tampere University
matti.kortesoja [at]

Paula Haara
Tampere University
paula.haara [at]

Funding: Academy of Finland