HIVA03101U Cph: Information Ethics: Privacy and Surveillance - Elective module

Volume 2014/2015
Master's programme in Information Science and Cultural Communication, Copenhagen

Most activities in contemporary information society leave digital footprints that together might reveal stories about people and their lives.  Many governments and corporations collect, analyze, and disseminate these digital footprints to gain insights into the behavior and affairs of its citizens and costumers.  Sometimes this creates a tension between the watched and watchers.  It can create tensions between the desire to gather and use private data and the wish to remain private.  Between the nature of public and private.  This course explores conceptual, theoretical and practical consequences of the rise of the surveillance society and the changed state of privacy.  The course introduces students to key concepts and frameworks that allow them to analyze and interpret surveillance and privacy situations and actions in a rigors manner and from an ethical perspective.  Students will be given opportunities to pursue their own interest in the area, e.g. surveillance and privacy issues with CCTV cameras, Facebook, Google, third party cookies, the Danish logningsbekendgørelse, NSA, censorship, big data, terms of service agreements, etc.  Students will after completing the course be prepared to engage in the formulation of information policies.

Learning Outcome


The objective of the module is to provide the student with:

Knowledge and understanding of:

  • A specific subject within library and information science
  • Relevant theories and methods related of the module's theme.


Skills in:

  • Identifying and outlining academic issues within library and information science and make these the object of independent analysis.
  • Reflecting critically on theoretical and methodological choices in relation to an academic issue.
  • Expanding on and putting a chosen subject field within library and information science into perspective.


Competences in:

  • Applying relevant theories and methods to a subject within library and information science.
  • Communicating a scientifically studies issue.

Sample Literature:

  • Ball, Kirstie; Haggerty, Kevin D.; & Lyon, David. 2012. Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies. Oxford, UK: Routledge.
  • Lyon, David. 2001. Surveillance Society: Monitoring Everyday Life. Buckingham: Open University Press.
  • Nissenbaum, Helen. 2010. Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life. Stanford, CA: Stanford Law Books.
  • Solove, Daniel. 2008. Understanding Privacy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
The course is organized as a graduate seminar, based on discussions of the readings. There will be no lectures. It is expected that students come to class well prepared; having read the assigned readings and ready to engage in discussions about the readings.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 45
  • Exam
  • 120
  • Preparation
  • 245,8
  • Total
  • 410,8
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Exam language: English.
Extent: 20 standard pages. Extent for group exams: See the following.
Group exam: The exam can be taken individually or as a group with individual assessment. For two students the assignment must be up to 30 standard pages, for three up to 40 standard pages, for four up to 50 standard pages and for five up to 60 standard pages. Each individual’s contribution must constitute a rounded unit that it is possible to identify individually and assess. The joint element must not exceed 50% of the total extent of the assignment.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period
May / June 2015
The re-examination form is the same as for the ordinary examination (i.e. a revision of the original paper). August 2015