CRISP was founded in 2012 by Professor William Webster (University of Stirling), Professor Kirstie Ball (University of St Andrews) and Professor Charles Raab (University of Edinburgh) as its Directors. It is an interdisciplinary centre bringing together expertise from across the social sciences, the arts, humanities, information sciences, and other relevant fields.

As individuals, the Directors began in the 1990s or earlier to work on information, surveillance and privacy issues, which were then at the margins of the social sciences and public policy. Since then, changes in the national and international political climate, in information technology, as well as in business and government practices resulted in a widespread increase in the use of surveillance techniques by powerful organizations. A resulting increase in the concern of funders, policymakers and practitioners about the ethical, social and political consequences of ‘the surveillance society’, and of the use of information, has given rise to a diverse international community of scholars now studying these subjects.

CRISP is at the heart of this community, with its members having received funding from the European 7th Framework Programme, the COST network, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust, among others. They have also advised the UK’s Information Commissioner, the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee and the House of Lords Constitution Committee, as well as a number of local authorities and other public agencies on questions relating to information, surveillance and privacy.

CRISP’s core aim is to generate and disseminate new knowledge about ‘information, surveillance and privacy’. Specifically we aim to:

  • Provide a platform for world class social scientific and legal research and knowledge exchange in CRISP’s subject area;
  • Provide an international focal point for existing and future research activities in this area;
  • Build on existing synergies that exist, in terms of current research projects and interests, between the partner institutions and researchers, and thereby enhance research capacities;
  • Provide a solid foundation for future grant applications and knowledge exchange activities;
  • Provide a vibrant environment for doctoral training and supervision in this subject area;
  • Provide a platform which will allow engagement with policy-makers and practitioners relevant to this subject area;
  • Engage with the public on relevant issues connected with Information processing, surveillance and privacy;
  • Enhance public awareness and understanding of the surveillance and privacy implications arising from the development of new ICTs.

Current and recent projects include a study of the impact of surveillant national security regimes on private sector organizations, their customers, their employees, and the wider public; a study to design surveillance impact assessments; a study which examines the relationship between privacy and security, a study of the resilience of democracy in surveillance societies; and a research programme designed to facilitate academic research activity, networks and knowledge in this subject area.

Read an Introduction to Information, Surveillance and Privacy