The Color of Surveillance

The powerful have long agreed: Poor and working people must be watched.

With the proliferation of digital monitoring and algorithmic management of gig economy and blue collar workers, it might seem like the expansion of workplace surveillance is a new trend. In reality, it is a centuries-old phenomenon that has shaped core aspects of modern privacy debates. From English Poor Laws, to the monitoring of 19th century coal miners and 20th century farmworker advocates, to contemporary efforts to track workers in the digital economy, this conference will follow the surveillance of poor and working people and those who advocate for them.

How has the myth of the untrustworthy pauper or worker transformed over time? What role has race and ethnicity played in justifying surveillance? Has this surveillance proven effective or not? How has technology normalized and propagated this surveillance? Finally, how are local communities, advocates, and artists responding to these challenges?

The Color of Surveillance addresses these questions and more, elevating the voices of working people, labor advocates, artists, and historians. The conference will take place on Thursday, November 7 in Hart Auditorium at Georgetown University Law Center, and is presented in partnership with Free Press and MediaJustice, with support from The Center on Poverty and Inequality Economic Security and Opportunity Initiative, the Workers’ Rights Institute, and The Institute for Technology Law and Policy.

Click here for a reading list featuring the speakers and subject matter of the conference.

Watch videos from the conference here.


9 – 9:20 AM: Introduction to The Color of Surveillance: Monitoring of Poor and Working People

Alvaro Bedoya, Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law
Gabrielle Rejouis, Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law

9:20 – 9:35: “Friendly Visitors”

Michael Reisch, University of Maryland

9:35 – 9:50: Transaction Denied

Xena Ni, Independent Artist

9:50 – 10:05: Poor People and Privacy

Mary Madden, Data & Society Research Institute

10:05 – 10:40: Unhoused, Watched

Tristia Bauman, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
Kelly Miller
Indi Dutta-Gupta (moderator), Center on Poverty & Inequality at Georgetown Law

10:40 – 11: Break

11 – 11:15: Housed, Watched

Schyla Pondexter-Moore

11:15 – 11:30: The Class Differential in Privacy Law

Michele Gilman, University of Baltimore School of Law, Data & Society

11:30 – 11:45: The Digital Poor House

Virginia Eubanks

11:45 – 12 PM: Reflections from the MediaJustice Network Delegation

Laila Nur,
Gabriela Sandoval, TURN

12 – 12:50: Lunch 

12:50 – 1: Interlude: What is Money?

Circle Time: Episode 1 Babak Radboy, What is Money? 2018 By DIS

1 – 1:05: Welcome Back

Sandra Fulton, Free Press Action Fund

1:05 – 1:20: The Eyes of King Coal

Mark Bulik, The New York Times

1:20 – 2:00: Surveillance in the Fields

Victor Díaz, Migrant Justice / Justicia Migrante
Will Lambek, Migrant Justice / Justicia Migrante
Chris Ramsaroop, Justice for Migrant Workers
Allison McDonald (moderator), Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law

2:00 – 2:35: Surveillance of Truckers

Anne Balay, Independent Scholar
Karen Levy, Cornell University
Jameson Spivack (moderator), Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law

2:35 – 2:55: Break

2:55 – 3:10: (In Range) (Out of Range) (Connecting)

Rodrigo Toscano, Labor Institute

3:10 – 3:45: Beyond Automation

Marley Pulido,
Brishen Rogers, Temple Law, Georgetown Law (Visiting Fall 2019)
Mark Gaston Pearce (moderator), Workers’ Rights Institute at Georgetown Law

3:45 – 4:00: Surveillance Ain’t Safety

Tawana Petty, Detroit Community Technology Project

4:00 – 4:40: From Decarceration to E-Carceration

Chaz Arnett, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Myaisha Hayes, MediaJustice
Topeka K. Sam, The Ladies of Hope Ministries
Alexandra Givens (moderator), Institute for Technology Law & Policy at Georgetown Law

4:40 – 4:55: Consumer Privacy, Worker Privacy

Gabrielle Rejouis, Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law

4:55 – 5:00: Closing Remarks

Alvaro Bedoya, Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law

Reception to follow on the 12th floor of Gewirz Student Center

Speaker List: