Publication: The limits of (digital) constitutionalism: Exploring the privacy-security (im)balance in Australia

Crime and Justice Research Centre members Dr Monique Mann and Dr Angela Daly, along with Justice PhD Candidate Michael Wilson, and QUT Law Associate Professor Nic Suzor recently published ‘The limits of (digital) constitutionalism: Exploring the privacy-security (im)balance in Australia’ in the International Communication Gazette.


This article explores the challenges of digital constitutionalism in practice through a case study examining how concepts of privacy and security have been framed and contested in Australian cyber security and telecommunications policy-making over the last decade. The Australian Government has formally committed to ‘internet freedom’ norms, including privacy, through membership of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC). Importantly, however, this commitment is non-binding and designed primarily to guide the development of policy by legislators and the executive government. Through this analysis, we seek to understand if, and how, principles of digital constitutionalism have been incorporated at the national level. Our analysis suggests a fundamental challenge for the project of digital constitutionalism in developing and implementing principles that have practical or legally binding impact on domestic telecommunications and cyber security policy. Australia is the only major Western liberal democracy without comprehensive constitutional human rights or a legislated bill of rights at the federal level; this means that the task of ‘balancing’ what are conceived as competing rights is left only to the legislature. Our analysis shows that despite high-level commitments to privacy as per the Freedom Online Coalition, individual rights are routinely discounted against collective rights to security. We conclude by arguing that, at least in Australia, the domestic conditions limit the practical application and enforcement of digital constitutionalism’s norms.


Cyber security, digital constitutionalism, human rights, metadata retention, online surveillance, privacy, security, securitization

You can read the full article here:



Book: Biometrics, Crime and Security


Crime and Justice Research Centre Dr Monique Mann recently published a book on Biometrics, Crime and Security with co-authors Dr Marcus Smith (Centre for Law and Justice at Charles Sturt University) and Associate Professor Gregor Urbas (Faculty of Business, Government and Law at the University of Canberra).

The book appears in the Routledge Law, Science and Society Series and can be purchased at this link:

The book addresses the use of biometrics – including fingerprint identification, DNA identification and facial recognition – in the criminal justice system: balancing the need to ensure society is protected from harms, such as crime and terrorism, while also preserving individual rights. It offers a comprehensive discussion of biometric identification that includes a consideration of: basic scientific principles, their historical development, the perspectives of political philosophy, critical security and surveillance studies; but especially the relevant law, policy and regulatory issues.


Young people working for peace

young leaders at UN

Dr. Helen Berents, lecturer in the School of Justice, recently published

Not just victims or threats: Young people win recognition as workers for peace

in The Conversation with her colleague from RMIT.

The article discusses the UN Security Council’s adoption of Resolution 2250 on “youth, peace and security.” Berents and Pruitt argue that the resolution changes the way the UN deals with young people by recognising their agency and work in conflict and post conflict contexts.

Read the full article here.

Recently Published: Children, violence, and social exclusion: negotiation of everyday insecurity in a Colombian barrio


photo: Helen Berents

Dr Helen Berents recently published the article Children, violence, and social exclusion: negotiation of everyday insecurity in a Colombian barrio in Critical Studies on Security.

Discourses on in/security are often concerned with structures and meta-narratives of the state and other institutions; however, such attention misses the complexities of the everyday consequences of insecurity. In Colombia’s protracted conflict, children are disproportionately affected yet rarely consulted, rendering it difficult to account for their experiences in meaningful ways. This article draws on fieldwork conducted with conflict-affected children in an informal barrio community on the periphery of Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, to explore how children articulate experiences of insecurity. It examines how stereotypes of violence and delinquency reinforce insecurity; how multiple violences impact young people’s lives; and how children themselves conceive of responses to these negative experiences. These discussions are underpinned by a feminist commitment of attention to the margins and engage with those for whom insecurity is a daily phenomenon. The effects of deeply embedded insecurity, violence, and fear for young people in Colombia require a more nuanced theoretical engagement with notions of insecurity, as well as the complexities of connections and dissonances within everyday life.

The article is part of the Special Issue on Children, childhoods, and security studies.