Dataveillance Regulation: A Research Framework

15 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2017 Last revised: 13 Jul 2018

See all articles by Roger Clarke

Roger Clarke

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd; University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law; Australian National University (ANU)

Graham Greenleaf

University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 7, 2017


Dataveillance is the systematic creation and/or use of personal data for the investigation or monitoring of the actions or communications of one or more persons. It emerged in the 1980s, initially as a set of tools for exploiting data that had already been collected for some other purpose. Developments in information technologies, combined with a voracious appetite for social control among government agencies and corporations alike, has seen dataveillance practices diversify and proliferate.

The regulatory frameworks that enable and control dataveillance activities appear not to have attracted a great deal of attention in the literature. Data privacy measures, usually referred to as (personal) data protection, have been the subject of a great deal of activity in legislatures, resulting in many countries having data protection oversight agencies and a modest level of jurisprudence. On the other hand, provisions that enable rather than constrain dataveillance are voluminous, both pre-dating data protection laws, and passed subsequently and hence often qualifying or over-ruling them.

This paper presents an initial survey and structuring of the field of dataveillance regulation in a manner intended to facilitate the conduct of research in the area. Its scope extends well beyond legislation to encompass all forms of regulatory mechanism. It identifies ways in which the effectiveness or otherwise of regulatory schemes can be evaluated. It suggests a classification scheme that can be applied to dataveillance regulation through technology and by law. This lays, we believe, a foundation for the analysis of the regimes in particular jurisdictions whereby dataveillance practices are regulated, for comparisons among jurisdictions, and for comparative evaluation of degrees of freedom and of authoritarianism.

Keywords: dataveillance, surveillance, privacy, data protection, regulation

Suggested Citation

Clarke, Roger and Greenleaf, Graham, Dataveillance Regulation: A Research Framework (November 7, 2017). UNSW Law Research Paper No. 17-84. Available at SSRN: or

Roger Clarke

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd ( email )

78 Sidaway St
Chapman, ACT 2611
+61 2 6288 1472 (Phone)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law ( email )

Kensington, New South Wales 2052

Australian National University (ANU) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601

Graham Greenleaf (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law ( email )

Sydney, New South Wales 2052
+61 2 9385 2233 (Phone)
+61 2 9385 1175 (Fax)


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