New SSHRC-funded study on ethics of big data

Surveillance and big data collection affects us all—governments and companies collect people’s personal information daily—but what are the social or political consequences of such monitoring? Researchers at Queen’s University today announced a $2.5-million grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to examine the ethics and implications of surveillance and big data on Canadian society. Leading international privacy expert Colin Bennett has brought the University of Victoria into the new study.

“The Big Data Surveillance Partnership Grant will allow UVic students to continue to participate with others from across Canada and the world on vitally important questions about the monitoring of our everyday lives,” says Bennett, a UVic political science professor and co-applicant of the SSHRC grant, which includes $250,000 for the UVic research. “The grant will mean more money to fund graduate students in UVic’s political science department, as well as the furtherance of my research on the privacy implications of data-driven elections and campaigns.”

The Big Data Surveillance Partnership Grant will bring together national and international academic partners, including UVic, along with non-academic partners such as the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of BC and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group.

SSHRC Partnership Grants support formal partnerships between researchers, businesses and other partners to improve understanding of critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance. Bennett is an expert in security and surveillance and, for more than 20 years, has focused his research on the politics of privacy.

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Media contacts

Colin Bennett (Political Science) at 250-721-7495 or

Anne MacLaurin (Social Sciences Communications) at 250-217-4259 or

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Keywords: surveillance, funding, ethics

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