Author Archives: Stephen Humphreys

About Stephen Humphreys

is associate professor of international law at the London School of Economics. He is the author of Theatre of the Rule of Law (Cambridge, 2010), a sustained critique of rule of law promotion in international development. In it he suggests this field is best understood as staging a morality tale, intended for edification and emulation, but blind to its own internal contradictions. He also edited the volume Human Rights and Climate Change (Cambridge, 2009), launching scholarly debate on this topic, and is currently authoring a monograph on privacy in the context of data saturation.

Conscience in the Datasphere

Deluged in data for more than a decade, our reflex has been to articulate our fears and anxieties in the language of privacy. But it may be more appropriate—and useful—to think in terms of conscience. Etymologically, conscience is, of course, the “knowledge with” which we act, on which we are judged, and through which we achieve self-awareness. Today, this knowledge is produced in part through the steady streams of information we cede, emit and receive in the ceaseless data-flux that we now inhabit. We might Continue reading →

Conscience in the Datasphere

Allow me to begin with two contemporary parables of conscience. The first is fictional. In Michael Haneke’s film Caché (2005), a well-heeled Parisian, Georges, finds himself subject to anonymous surveillance, sparking a series of events that lead him to reflect on his past. Specifically he is prompted to recall his jealous response, as a child in rural France, to the arrival in his home of an Algerian boy orphaned when his parents were killed in the 1961 “Paris Massacre.” 1 Georges dissembled and lied to ensure that the boy, Continue reading → Continue reading →