“They have it installed as a museum piece on display until the end of the term. Then they will start using it for teaching,” says Light.
Light is thrilled with the reaction his invention has been getting. “None of this would be possible without Concordia’s Mobile Media Lab, and Kim Sawchuk,” he says.
Sawchuk, a professor in the Department of Communication Studies, is one of the lab’s directors, and Light’s postdoctoral supervisor.
Does Light think he’ll ever connect with Snowden in person? “We’ll see — it seems like he’s a pretty busy guy,” Light says and laughs.
As Light tours the Snowden Surveillance Archive, he’s also working on his own research, funded by Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC).
“I’m looking at different strategies for dealing with mass surveillance, and taking control of telecommunications networks that don’t necessarily represent the interests of their customers,” explains Light.
He’s investigating solutions like shareholder activism, which includes the idea of creating activist mutual funds to invest in telecommunications companies with the goal of introducing anti-surveillance policies and protecting privacy.
Light hopes his work will not only deepen the field of study surrounding surveillance issues, but also inspire citizens to think more about the ways in which their data is being collected, and their online behaviour monitored.
“Surveillance is really a very long-term project,” Light says. “We never know where our politics are headed, and we never know who is going to be in power, and what side of that relationship we are going to be on.
“And what mass surveillance means is that people are not necessarily targeted as individuals. We are targeted because we all might do something wrong, or something that may be considered wrong in the future.
“When I give talks about this, I say to a room full of academics, who may be in long-distance relationships, ‘Has anybody ever used a webcam to keep in touch with your loved one?’ You’ve probably been watched.”
A screening of Citizenfour, a documentary about Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal, will be followed by a panel discussion on mass surveillance, on November 26, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
The event will take place in the Alumni Auditorium (H-110) of the Henry F. Hall Building on the Sir George Williams Campus. Both the screening and the panel discussion are free and open to the public.
Find out more about the Mobile Media Lab.