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Dr. Isadora is a Political Scientist (McGill University) studying US and European public opinion of deputized mass online surveillance.

Isadora’s work examines how Western governments, often categorized as “advanced democracies”, engage in undemocratic mass surveillance practices by a deputizing process involving companies' existing monitoring infrastructure, and incentives and legal instruments that make its data accessible to governments. Using a political economy perspective, her work built on the evidence provided by Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers to analyze United States’ tech policy on surveillance. Using comparative, behavioral, and political economy frameworks, she developed, implemented and validated an original quantitative measure on the differences between attitudes towards state surveillance and surveillance capitalism in a nationally representative sample of Americans.

Conceptually, she identifies "deputized surveillance" as the main mechanism for governments with constitutional constraints on offline monitoring. Governments require and convince private companies to surveil and make accessible data on citizens’ consumer behavior. This creates a “surveillance complex”, updating the concept of the industrial-military complex beyond the purchase of hardware.

Her analysis of American respondents causally shows that attitudes towards surveillance are shaped by intergroup relations. The desire to surveil disliked groups overrides respondents' misgivings over liked groups' monitoring. This dynamic reveals two largely ignored issues: First, people's own considerations of privacy are minor and instead attitudes relate to collective goods and decision-making preferences over others. Second, explicit public safety narratives misinform citizens on how surveillance programs work by emphasizing how surveillance data is used on the most widely reviled groups, implicitly suggesting they are the only ones affected. Deputized surveillance programs create a democratic accountability gap, which reinforce the arbitrary use of the technologies and data. Her research compares American to European attitudes and politics surrounding divergent regulatory frameworks, which she contextualizes through an analysis of their differing legal traditions and constraints exacerbated by GDPR and transatlantic data transfer obstacles. She holds an MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, where she researched the DMCA, Google’s surveillance of digital piracy, and its effects on academic knowledge building. Isadora's The European Voter Privacy-Security Choice during 2014 EU Elections was awarded the 2018 NPSA/Pi Sigma Alpha Best Paper Award and is currently seeking a postdoctoral home for her project on surveillance attitudes in Five Eyes' populations, attitudes toward data collection for AI use and the effects of surveillance awareness on political speech and protest behavior.

She is frequently on reddit and infrequently on Twitter. The best means of contact is email.


Tech Policy Press

Biden Cannot Protect Privacy or Defend Democracy by Expanding Surveillance Powers

Isadora Borges Monroy writes about the tension between expanding surveillance and protecting democracy.

Jul 3, 2024