Best privacy songs of 2020

A subjective selection of the best tracks of 2020 contributing to a better understanding of privacy, data protection, surveillance and a great variety of related issues.

  1. Bell TowersPrivacy’ [YouTube] ‘Now the club is empty. All I have is privacy’. The song that best captured 2020, even if it was quite over-optimistic. Do not miss the video, its cheap 80s effects and random 90s footage, with Rohan Bruce Bell-Towers singing gently and desperately: ‘I don’t know what to do, please tell me what to do with my privacy’.
  2. Jasmine Guffond Dotcompound‘ [YouTube] One of my highlights of 2020 was preparing the ‘Sounds of Surveillanceplaylist for Wire with Jasmine Guffond. Our conversation around that selection was later transcribed in full, coinciding with a broadcast for the Oscillations festival, and is accessible here. This track is excellent, just like the rest of her record ‘Microphone permissions’, which the label Mego files under experimental and alternative punk, and maybe so should we.
  3. Systemabsturz: ‘Staatstrojaner‘ [Youtube] Lively electro-pop in German about State remote access to your life. It is the only song classified in Bandcamp under ‘datenschutz-elektropunk‘. Do not miss their No-Budget-Quarantäne-Video, and also this other song on the state of the Internet and cats.
  4. Laurel Halo ‘Hyphae’ [YouTube] Beautiful first track of ‘Possessed’, Laurel Halo’s soundtrack for the 2018 experimental documentary ‘Possessed‘ by Metahaven and Rob Schröder. In case you wonder, it is not your phone that vibrates during the song, it is the song.
  5. Protomartyr Processed by the boys’ [YouTube] A tragicomic work about the subtle move from democracy to an authoritarian regime, with passages like ‘fill out the form, download the app, submit your face into the scanner‘, and an amazing video deserving repeated views.
  6. Caterina SchembriSurveillance’ [Vimeo] An instrumental track connected to a piece on The Uyghur Women Fighting China’s Surveillance State by Isobel Cockerell, on China’s treatment of Muslim minorities. The piece won the European Press Prize 2020 Distinguished Reporting Award.
  7. Secret NumberPrivacy‘ [performance video: YouTube; dance practice: YouTube] This K-pop girl group had a real hit with this number, with the official video now well beyond the million of views. Unclear whether the dance moves have a direct link with the lyrics.
  8. Xylitol ‘I want a refund’ [Bandcamp] Energetic hardcore punk against the algorithmic police state. Very inspired and perspicuous lyrics.
  9. Fontaines DCTelevised minds’ [YouTube] A song about online echo chambers by this Dublin post-punk band which is really not bad.
  10. Gaudi Secret Service Dub (with Dennis Bovell)’ [YouTube] This track comes from ‘100 Years of Theremin‘, a record celebrating – in dub mode – the 100th anniversary of the invention of the theremin by Leon Theremin. The theremin is an instrument played by moving hands in the air, without any direct contact with the instrument. Leon Theremin, the person, is probably the best historical embodiment of the nexus between sound and surveillance. He did not only invent the theremin, but also developed innovative security solutions for Lenin, sold metal detectors to Alcatraz, pioneered automated illumination of shop windows as people by walked by in New York, and created a microphone that was used for political spying during the Cold War, among a variety of other achievements.
  11. Shanghai Restoration Project ‘Present continuous’ [Soundcloud] From the ‘Brave New World Symphony’ record, which does not hide its interest in dystopia. A very pleasing track that seems not to talk about anything in particular, until it starts mentioning ‘faces gathered on screen with a slight delay’.
  12. MindframeArtificial Intelligence’ [Bandcamp] A punk gem. The lyrics start alright (‘I feel connected through the web’), but my favourite part is the chorus, which sounds like something like ‘AIya ya ya yay ya AIA AAA AI”.
  13. Somaticae ‘Advanced Middle East Systems’ [Bandcamp] Protest minimal techno from France. The track comes from the album ‘Amesys’, a sort of concept record on the French company accused of selling surveillance technology to Muammar Gaddafi.
  14. Blancmange Antisocial media’ [YouTube] ‘Correct me if I am wrong’ had never sounded so unnatural as in this song which also mentions Orwellian thought police. From the record ‘Mindset’, also featuring ‘Diagram’ (‘I want transparency, I want transparency, I want transparency‘).
  15. Wrangler ‘Machines Designed (To Eat You Up)’ [YouTube] Algorithmic fat traders (?). Deep surveillance. A network for accumulation. Spyware. Summing up: machines designed to eat us up.
  16. Childish GambinoAlgorhythm‘ [YouTube] Finally officially released, this song had already been played live by Gambino, for instance here. It is about alienation and addiction to the modern (online) life, and even about sharenting (‘You sell your daughter on that data stream, dopamine make it hit now‘).
  17. Shopping Follow me’ [YouTube (Lyrics version)] A touching, melodious conversation with a CCTV camera. Shopping is of course often connected to surveillance.
  18. Black Dresses 888db Cloud (100 Gecs cover)’ [YouTube] This Toronto duo disbanded in 2020 due to ‘extended invasion of privacy. They said goodbye to the Internet covering an explicit lyrics song about – and against – the Internet.
  19. Saito Surveillance‘ [Bandcamp] Excellent Japanese industrial-like modular improvisation, on Mille Plateaux.
  20. Ela Minus ‘Let them have the internet’ [YouTube] This instrumental track is trying to tell us ‘let them have the internet, because we have everything else’, according to the website Genius, famous for listing lyrics of songs but apparently also explaining the meaning of instrumentals. Possibly not an accurate assessment of reality, but a nice instrumental.
  21. drøneInfluence machines‘ [Bandcamp] Found sounds and field recordings from/in the machines. The track is in the fourth album of drøne, who are Mark Van Hoen (Locust) and Mike Harding.
  22. Xynn Computed man’ [Spotify] This song, about human computers and computer men, is actually from 1980 but it was reissued in 2020 in ‘Musik Music Musique – 1980: The Dawn Of Synth Pop‘, a compilation published by Cherry Red [YouTube], which explores a period in which technology and surveillance were a privileged source of inspiration for pop artists, generating nowadays revived interest. The compilation includes many other songs about automation, like ‘Galactica’ by Rockets (‘I was designed in a robotic way, I am programmed to help the human race‘), ‘European man’ by Landscape (‘Information processes are moving in’),I’m a computer’ by The Goo-Q, or ‘A circuit like me’ by The Metronomes, occasionally directly touching upon privacy, like M’s ‘Official secrets’ (‘There are some things you can’t hide, all is revealed to be denied‘).
  23. King Gizzard & The Lizard WizardAutomation (Demo)’ [YouTube] It’s a demo. It’s noisy. And it says something like ‘cyber surgeon, Javascript person, digital cleanse, tell all your friends the neural networks work! transmogrification! … cause you cannot keep a lie from no AI‘.
  24. Privacy Issues ‘Privacy issues‘ [Bandcamp] The minimalist but powerful track was finally officially published this year as part of the ‘Privacy Issues’ album, and made it to the list of best punk albums of 2020 by Bandcamp.
  25. Biznaga ‘2k20’ [YouTube] Anarcho-pop-punk from Madrid, in Spanish. They sing (in Spanish) ‘democracy is surveillance, and I am only information‘, with a rather catchy melody. They also have this other song on fake online lives.
  26. stAllio!Ok Google‘ [Bandcamp] Simple, but effective snappy electronics with simple but effective lyrics: ‘Hey Google, Hey Siri, Hey Siri, Ok, Hey Google, Hey Alexa, Hey Alexa, Ok Google, Hey Google, Hey Siri, Hey Siri, Ok’.
  27. Cargo Cults Reign of the Tech‘ [Bandcamp] ‘I got the feds in my pocket, i can pay with my watch’: the lyrics are worth a hundred conference panels, bringing together Snowden, Google, Alexa, facial recognition, Instagram, and much more.
  28. Pleasurekraft ‎’Panopticon (The Patron Saint of Global Surveillance)’ [YouTube] It might start like just another techno track, but it gets increasingly dark: ‘you showed me I’m nothing, a puppet you need to control’, says the song. Its ‘The Social Dilemma’-inspired video is accompanied by a reading list, referring to Cathy O’Neil, Shoshana Zuboff and others.
  29. Fondwell Privacy Policies (demo)’ [Bandcamp] Nervous rock from Argentina which includes the sentence ‘All I want and I need are privacy policies’.
  30. Left x KroficaPrediction advice‘ [Bandcamp] A song about automated recommendations on transparency by an artificial human voice who says ‘Siri my favorite souldier, Siri my favorite spy, my future governor, the friendly device’. From a compilation titled ‘Sounds From Slovenian Bedrooms III‘.
  31. Dreamcrusher ‘Panopticon!’ [YouTube] An extended, quite noisy and occasionally aggressive dark exploration of this classic, atemporal concept.
  32. Katie Dey ‘Data’ [Soundcloud] The definitive ode to pure data love: ‘Hold it on your servers, hold it on your drives, my data’.
  33. Nap Eyes Mark Zuckerberg[Youtube] Sunny pop song on some of the many persistent open questions about Mark Zuckerberg.
  34. Steve Moore DataVision‘ [YouTube] From the compilation ‘Portals: A Kosmiche Journey through Outer Worlds and Inner Space’, exploring the connections between cosmic-sounding modular synths and 70s utopian science fiction, because retro futuristic synth music is a very real thing in 2020.
  35. Vindit Algorithm man’ [YouTube Music] Melancholic Brazilian synthpop about the algorithm man, who is ‘tying bigger knots’, as ‘not a day goes by he’s not collecting thoughts, collective dots’.
  36. Emily Jeanne Redefining privacy’ [YouTube] Belgian electronic track from the mini-album ‘Public by default’.
  37. Ariel Sharratt & Mathias Kom ‘Rise up Alexa’ [YouTube] Protest folk calling for smart assistants to unite. The video, in which Alexa is represented by a homemade cardboard robot, might soon be added to my list of favourite videos featuring robots.
  38. Fornax Void Ancient data tapes’ [Bandcamp] One of the 55 charming tracks that compose the conceptual record ‘Cyberspace database’, available in different formas including a limited Executive Edition which has a printed cardboard software box, a floppy Disk with the song ‘Corporate Intranet Menu Music (Renoise File)‘, and a hand-bound User’s Guide printed on 1994 dot matrix printer, all presumably dispatched from somewhere in Switzerland. Tagged by the artist ‘semiconductorwave‘.
  39. Kev Minney God is an algorithm’ [YouTube] In which Kev tenderly explains he gave his information, and they notified him.
  40. Monochrome Echo ‘The stalker’ [Bandcamp] It is the year 2320, the Europa Outpost has lost contact with their landing party and the captain realizes they might not be alone on the station. ‘The stalker’ echoes this indefinite surveillance on the moon. The whole ‘Moonkeeper’ record is quite good, signed by Simon Little, who is the bass player in The Divine Comedy.
  41. Cabaret Voltaire ‘Be free’ [YouTube] It is not easy to announce and comment upon a dystopian future consistently for decades without sounding obsolete, especially if one of your points is that the dystopia is (and thus was) also here. Richard H. Kirk nevertheless keeps trying, and he came back with ‘Shadow of fear’, which includes a series of numbers like this one, not particularly innovative but reassuring predictable.
  42. Control RoomSurveillance’ [Bandcamp]. If you are in a German duo called Control Room, you are bound to end up writing a song called ‘Surveillance‘. It will feature some retro synths and somebody asking you to please let him go.
  43. Gashi Paranoid’ [YouTube] Everybody should look at Gashi’s video where he walks around the city wearing a 1984 jacket, and singing ‘someone’s watching me‘.
  44. MyLittleRobotFriend ‘Privacy pirates’ [Bandcamp] It starts with the fundamental question ‘Privacy, what does it mean?’, and then it flows into the digital present and the future of cyber-nations.
  45. Sussy Private life’ [YouTube Music] Sophisticated electronic pop about your private life, and about too much information in general.
  46. Anti Drone SquadSelf-surveillance (Neinzer’s Orbital Reflix)’ [YouTube Music] Introspective dance floor electronics from Anti Drone Squad’s ‘Pax digitalis EP’ [which has a nice YouTube video].
  47. Nitro No privacy / No caption needed’ [YouTube] The Italian lyrics says iPhone, bot, drone, and unfollow, as well as ‘no privacy‘.
  48. System Restore Privacy’ [Bandcamp] A bit of skate punk straight to the point: ‘They’re watching you, they’re watching me, they record you, they record me’. The track is from a record including also a song called ‘Wash your hands’ which is apparently not about Covid-19.
  49. Billiam ‘Privacy’ [Bandcamp] Billiam is based in Melbourne and plays ultra lo-fi synth punk. In this track he seems to sing ‘privacy protects you and me’, or something similar. He has actually published a variety of inspiring songs this year, such as ‘I don’t wanna be with you or ‘I need a robot‘, as well as ‘Life On(The)Line with the band
  50. The Fight ‘Their new aesthetic’ [Spotify] Hardcore punk from New York, with a clear warning: ‘Data mining quantifies the value of your tortured life. Vibrations tell you you must work harder. The machine sends a clear new order. You push your body until it fails. Machines prevail’.

A review of 2020 in this field would not be complete without mentioning the death of Florian Schneider, member of Kraftwerk, authors of many influential pop songs about machines and data (and who by the way had also managed to reach the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) with a copyright case, Case C-476/17). Also died this year Simeon Coxe, of the Silver Apples, whose music had been using machines to talk inter alia about machines and humans since the end of the 1960s.

The best privacy songs of 2019 were listed here, and the best privacy songs of 2018 are here. For songs from other years, please see the general playlist of privacy and surveillance songs covering from 1945 to 2017.

Special thanks to Sebastian Golla and Jasmine Guffond for their recommendations.

Privacy Camp 2021 Call for panels

Privacy Camp is jointly organised by the Research Group on Law, Science, Technology & Society (LSTS) at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), European Digital Rights (EDRi), , the Institute for European Studies at Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles (IEE at USL-B), and Privacy Salon. The call for panels for the 2021 edition, titled ‘Digital rights for change: Reclaiming infrastructures, repairing the future‘, is now open. All details here.

A playlist about privacy and surveillance


A collection of songs about surveillance and privacy.

  1. Ethel Merman ‘Why do they call a private a private?‘ (12″, V Disc, 1945) [HistoryOnTheNet]
  2. Hank Williams ‘Mind your own business’ (7″, MGM Records, 1949)
  3. Little Richard ‎’Slippin’ and slidin‘(Here’s Little Richard, Speciality, 1957)
  4. Bobby Vee ‎’The night has a thousand eyes’ (7″, Liberty, 1963)
  5. The Kinks ‎’Party Line’ (Face to Face, Rye Records, 1966)
  6. Johnny Rivers ‎’Secret agent man’ (7″, Imperial, 1966)
  7. Jamo Thomas & His Party Brothers Orchestra‘I spy (For the FBI)‘ (7″, Thomas Records, 1966)
  8. The Glass Family ‘House of glass’ (Electric Band, Warner Bros., 1967)
  9. The Shoes ‘Peace and privacy‘ (Polydor, 1967)
  10. Simon & Garfunkel ‘Mrs. Robinson‘ (CBS, 1968)
  11. Wonderland ‘Peeping and hiding’ (Polydor, 1968)
  12. George Williams No business of yours‘ (7″, Bullet, 1969)
  13. The Doors ‘The spy’ (Morrison Hotel,  Elektra, 1970)
  14. The Kinks ‘Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues‘ (Muswell Hillbillies, RCA Victor, 1971) [YouTube of live in 1973]
  15. Jacques Dutronc ‘Vie privée, domaine public’ (1972, Disques Vogue, 1972)
  16. Stevie Wonder ‎’Big Brother’ (Talking Book, Tamla, 1972)
  17. Howlin’ Wolf ‎’Watergate blues’ (The Back Door Wolf, Chess, 1973)
  18. New York Dolls ‎’Private world’ (New York Dolls, Mercury, 1973)
  19. David Bowie ‘1984′ (Diamond Dogs, RCA Victor, 1974)
  20. David Bowie ‘Big Brother(Diamond Dogs, RCA Victor, 1974)
  21. Rolling Stones ‘Fingerprint file’ (It’s only rock ‘n roll, Rolling Stones Records, 1974) [YouTube]
  22. Ella Fitzgerald T’aint nobody’s bizness‘ (Ella Fitzgerald At The Montreux Jazz Festival 1975, Pablo Records, 1975)
  23. Elvis Costello ‘Watching the detectives’ (1977) (7″, Stiff Records, 1977) [YouTube]
  24. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers ‎’Angels watching over me (Rock ‘N’ Roll With The Modern Lovers, Beserkley, 1977)
  25. Television ‎’Prove it’ (Marquee Moon, Elektra, 1977)
  26. Delta 5 ‎’Mind your own Business’ (7″, 1979)
  27. Devo ‎’Secret agent man’ (Duty Now For The Future,  Virgin, 1979)
  28. Cheap Trick ‎’Dream police’ (Dream Police, Epic, 1979) [YouTube]
  29. Talking Heads ‎’Life during war’ (Fear Of Music, Sire, 1979)
  30. This Heat ‘Twilight furniture’ (This Heat, Piano, 1979)
  31. The Roches ‎’We’ (The Roches, Warner Bros, 1979)
  32. XTC ‘Real by reel’ (Dreams and wires, Virgin 1979)
  33. Dead Kennedys ‘California über Alles’ (Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables,
    Cherry Red, 1980)
  34. UK Subs ‘Brand New Age’ (Brand New Age, RCA, 1980)
  35. Au Pairs ‘Headache (For Michelle)‘(Playing With A Different Sex, Human Records, 1981) mc5qcgvn
  36. The Dadacomputer ‘Computer bank’ (The Dadacomputer, 1981)
  37. The Fall ‘Prole art threat’ (The Slates, Rough Trade, 1981)
  38. Daryl Hall and John Oates ‘Private eyes’ (Private Eyes, RCA, 1981) [YouTube]
  39. Go-Go’s ‘Out lips are sealed’ ‎(Beauty and the Beat, IRS Records, 1981) [YouTube]
  40. Kym Amps ‘You don’t know my name (but I know you)’ (You Don’t Know My Name (But I Know You), Diversion, 1981)
  41. Kraftwerk ‎’Computerwelt’ (Computerwelt, Mute, 1981)
  42. Siouxsie and The Banshees ‘Monitor’‎ (Juju, Polydor, 1981)
  43. Rick Wakeman ‘1984 Overture‘ (1984, Charisma) For a video of a performance of the whole album: YouTube.
  44. The Alan Parsons Project‘Eye in the sky’ (Eye in the sky, Arista, 1982) [YouTube]
  45. The Ex ‘Watch-dogs’ (History is what’s happening, More Dirt Per Minute, 1982)
  46. Horace Andy ‘Spying glass’ (Dance Hall Style, Wackie’s, 1982)
  47. Hüsker Dü ‘Data control’ (Land Speed Record, SST Records, 1982)
  48. Judas Priest ‘Electric eye’ ‎(Screaming for Vengeance, CBS, 1982)
  49. Laura Branigan ‘Gloria‘ (Atlantic, 1982) [YouTube]
  50. Neil Young ‘Computer age’ (Trans, Geffen, 1982)
  51. Neil Young ‘We R in control’ (Trans, Geffen, 1982)
  52. Patrick BowleyTech-No-Logical World(Mind Warp, 1982) ms5qcgvn
  53. Originalton ‘Datenschutz’ (Mein Leben ist ein Werbespot, Neue Welt Schallplatten, 1982)
  54. Thomson Twins ‘We are detective’ (Quick Step & Side Kick, Arista, 1982) [YouTube]
  55. Anti Social Workers and The Mad Professor ‘Who’s watching you?’ (Punky Reggae Party, Ariwa, 1983)
  56. Dear Enemy ‘Computer One’ (Capitol Records, 1983) [YouTube]
  57. The PoliceEvery breath you take‘ (Synchronicity, A&M Records, 1983) [YouTube]
  58. The Romantics ‘Talking in your sleep‘ (EPIC, 1983) [YouTube]
  59. Rockwell ‎’Somebody’s watching Me’ (Somebody’s Watching Me, Motown, 1983) [YouTube]
  60. Trans-X ‘Living on video’ (Message on the Radio, 1983) [YouTube]
  61. Anthony Philips ‘Anthem 1984′ (1984, RCA)
  62. Cabaret Voltaire ‘Spies in the wires’ ‎(Micro-Phonies, Virgin, 1984)
  63. Eurythmics ‎’Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)‘ (1984 (For the Love of Big Brother), Virgin, 1984)
  64. Bibi Flash ‘Vie privée’ (7″, RCA, 1984) [YouTube]
  65. Jethro Tull ‘Paparazzi’ (Under wraps, Chrysalis, 1984)
  66. Jyl ‘The computer generation’ (Jyl, Thunderbolt, 1984)
  67. Monitor ‘Mensch Aus Glas’ (Ariola, 1984) [YouTube]
  68. Tina Turner ‘1984′ (cover of David Bowie) (Private Dancer, Capitol, 1984)
  69. Beat Happening ‎’I spy’ (Beat Happening,  K Records, 1985)
  70. John Cale ‘Vigilante lover’ (Artificial Intelligence, Beggars Banquet, 1985) r-1330841-1376452779-3040.jpeg
  71. Nature ‘Don’t let computers grow!’ (Constant, 1985)
  72. Paul McCartney ‎’Spies like us‘ (7″, Parlophone, 1985)
  73. Mad Professor ‎’Under surveillance’ (Dub Me Crazy Part Five: Who Knows the Secret of the Master Tape?, Ariwa, 1985)
  74. Alaska y Dinarama ‎’A quién le importa‘ (Hispavox, 1986)
  75. Pete Townshend ‘Hiding out’ (Acto Records, 1986)
  76. They Might Be Giants (She was a) Hotel detective(They Might Be Giants, Bar/None Records, 1986) r-11882844-1579293398-3577.jpeg
  77. Mercedes Herman ‎’Une vie privée publique‘ (12″, CPA Disques, 1987)
  78. Aleph ‘Big Brother’ (Time Records, 1988)
  79. Ambitious Lovers ‎‘Privacy’ (Greed, Virgin, 1988)
  80. Hank Williams Jr. What You Don’t Know (Won’t Hurt You)‘ ‎(Wild Streak, Warner Bros, 1988)
  81. Depeche Mode ‘Policy of truth’ (Violator, Mute, 1990) [YouTube]
  82. Public Enemy ‘Revolutionary generation’ (Fear of a black planet, Def Jam Recordings, 1990]
  83. Metallica ‘Don’t tread on me’ (Metallica, Elektra, 1991)
  84. Black Sabbath ‘Computer god’ (Dehumanizer, Reprise, 1992)
  85. Bügsküll‘Eavesdropping’ (Gargamelodies, Eldest Son Records, 1992)
  86. Isabel Pantoja ‘Que se busquen a otra’ (RCA, 1992) [YouTube]
  87. Leonard Cohen ‎’The Future’ (The Future,  Columbia, 1992)
  88. The Magnetic Fields ‘Technical (you’re so)’ ‎(The House of Tomorrow EP, Feel Good All Over, 1992)
  89. Snow ‘Informer’ (12″, EastWest Records America, 1992)
  90. Sonic Youth ‘Stalker’ (Dirty, Geffen, 1992)
  91. Suzanne Vega ‘Private goes public’ (99.9 F°, A&M, 1992)
  92. The Auteurs ‘Life Classes / Life Model (Now I’m A Cowboy, Hut, 1993)
  93. Fugazi ‘Public Witness Program‘ (In On The Kill Taker, Dischord, 1993)
  94. Guided By Voices ‘#2 In The Model Home Series’ (Vampire On Titus, Scat Records, 1993)my5qcgvn
  95. Salt ‘N’ Pepa ‘None of your business’ ‎(Very Necessary, FFRR, 1993) [YouTube]
  96. Electronic Eye ‘Datacrime‘ (Closed Circuit, Beyond, 1994)
  97. Guided By Voices ‎’Peep-hole’ (Bee Thousand, Scat Records, 1994)
  98. Juggling Jugulars ‎’Selling privacy’ (…For Humanity – Early 90’s, Genet Records, 1994) [Bandcamp]
  99. Pearl Jam ‘Pry, to’ (Vitalogy, EPIC, 1994)
  100. R.E.M. ‘Star 69(Monster, Warner Bros., 1994) [YouTube]
  101. Rollins Band ‘Disconnect’ ‎(Weight, Imago, 1994) [YouTube]
  102. Against All Authority ‎’Another fuck you song’ (Destroy what destroys you, Far Out Records, 1995)
  103. Blur ‘The Universal’ (The Great Escape, Parlophone, 1995) [YouTube]
  104. Mobb Deep ‘Temperature’s rising ‎(The Infamous, Loud Records, 1995)
  105. No DoubtSpiderwebs’ ‎(Tragic Kingdom, Interscope Records, 1995) [YouTube]
  106. Pulp ‘I spy’ (Different class, Island Records, 1995)
  107. Anti-Flag ‘I’m being watched by the CIA(Die For The Government, New Red Archives, 1996)
  108. Do or Die ‘Search warrant‘ (Picture This, Rap-A-Lot Records, 1996) [YouTube]
  109. Smog ‘You moved in’ (The doctor came at dawn, Domino, 1996)
  110. Atari Teenage Riot ‘Delete Yourself ! You Got No Chance To Win!(Delete Yourself!, Digital Hardcore Recordings, 1997)
  111. Fear Factory ‘Securitron (Police State 2000)‘ (Obsolete, Roadrunner Records, 1997) [YouTube]
  112. The Firm ‘Phone tap’ (The Album, Columbia, 1997)
  113. Portastatic ‘Spying on the spys’ (The Nature of Sap, Merge, 1997) [YouTube]
  114. Crucial Conflict ‘Faceless ones‘ (Good side bad side, Universal Records, 1998) [YouTube]
  115. Killah Priest ‘Information’ (Heavy Mental, Geffen, 1998) [YouTube]
  116. Ophélie Winter ‘Dans mon intimité‘ (Privacy, EastWest, 1998)
  117. Quasi ‘Our happiness is guaranteed‘ (Featuring “Birds“, Domino, 1998)
  118. Spoon ‘Metal detektor’ (A Series of Sneaks, 1998) a2314726404_16
  119. Trans AM ‘Access control’ (The Surveillance, City Slang, 1998)
  120. Unwound ‘Data’ (Challenge For A Civilized Society, Kill Rock Stars, 1998)
  121. Atari Teenage Riot ‘Atari Teenage Riot II’ (60 Second Wipe Out, Digital Hardcore Recordings, 1999)
  122. Barcelona ‎’I have the password to your shell account‘ (ZeRo-oNe-INFINITY, 1999)
  123. Dead Prez, ‘Police state’ (Lets Get Free, Loud Records, 1999)
  124. Kings of Convenience ‘Brave New World’ (7″, Éllet Records, 1999)
  125. Saxon ‘Watching you’ (Metalhead, Steamhammer, 1999)
  126. The Grouch ‎’Stop Spying‘ (Making Perfect Sense, G&E Music, 1999)
  127. Badly Drawn BoyEverybody’s stalking ‎(The hour of bewilderbeast, Twisted Nerve, 2000)
  128. Chicks On SpeedMind Your Own Business‘‎ (cover of Delta 5) (Chicks On Speed Will Save Us All!, Chicks On Speed Records, 2000) [Soundcloud]
  129. Coldplay ‘Spies’ (Parachutes, Parlophone, 2000) [YouTube]
  130. Deltron 3030 ‎’Virus’ (Deltron 3030, 75 Ark, 2000)
  131. Iron Maiden ‘Brave New World’ (Brave New World, EMI, 200) [YouTube (live at Rock in Rio)]
  132. Jill Scott ‘Watching me’ (Who is Jill Scott? – Words and Sounds Vol. 1, Hidden Beach Recordings, 2000)
  133. RadioheadHow to disappear completely‘ (Kid A, Parlophone, 2000)
  134. Stereolab ‘Retrograde mirror form’ ‎(The First of the Microbe Hunters, Duophonic Ultra High Frequency Disks, 2000)
  135. John Vanderslice ‎’Bill Gates must die’ (Mass Suicide Occult Figurines, Barsuk, 2000) [YouTube]
  136. Arab Strap ‘Love detective’ (The Red Thread, Chemikal Underground, 2001) [YouTube]
  137. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti ‎’Privacy(– Scared Famous/FF>>, Demonstration Bootleg, 2001)
  138. Björk ‘Hidden place’ (Vespertine, Polydor, 2001) [YouTube]
  139. Michael Jackson ‎’Privacy’ (Invincible, Epic, 2001)
  140. A Trillion Barnacle Lapse ‎’Privacy had a bad ticker (The Elemental Gearbot, Nova Recordings, 2002)
  141. Piebald ‎’The stalker’ (We are the only friends we have, Big Wheel Recreation, 2002)
  142. Snapcase ‎’Ten AM’ (End Transmission, Victory Records, 2002)
  143. Sutekh ‘Privacy’ (2002) [Bandcamp]
  144. Grizzly Bear ‎’Eavesdropping’ (Horn of Plenty, Kanine Records, 2003)
  145. Karl Bartos ‘Cyberspace’ (Communication, Sony, 2003)
  146. Blur ‘We’ve got a file on you‘ (Think Tank, Parlophone, 2003)
  147. Radiohead ‎’2 + 2 = 5′ (Hail To The Thief, Parlophone, 2003)
  148. Wire ‘Being watched’ (Send, Pinkflag, 2003)
  149. Dr Zyklus ‘Biometric ID’ (Biometry, Djak-Up-Bitch, 2004)
  150. Hard-Fi ‎’Stars of CCTV’ (Stars of CCTV,  Necessary Records, 2004) 
  151. Interpol ‘Narc’ (Antics, Matador, 2004)
  152. U2 ‘Fast cars’ (How to dismantle an atomic bomb, Island Records, 2004)
  153. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone ‘A normal suburban lifestyle is a near impossibility once you’ve fallen in love with an international spy’ (The First Two Albums, Tomlab, 2005) [Bandcamp]
  154. Ladytron ‎’Nothing to hide’ (Destroy Everything You Touch single, Island Records, 2005)
  155. Quasimoto ‘Privacy’ (The Further Adventures Of Lord Quas, Stones Throw, 2005)
  156. David Bazan ‎’Selling advertising‘ (Fewer Moving Parts EP, self-released, 2006) [Bandcamp]
  157. Buzzcocks ‘Big Brother wheels’ (Flat-Pack Philosophy, Cooking Vinyl, 2006) lmpwzwc
  158. The Black Heart Procession ‘GPS’‎ (The Spell, Touch and Go, 2006)
  159. Franz Ferdinand ‘Your diary’ (You could have it so much better, Sony, 2006)
  160. John B ‎’I’ve been stalking you on Myspace’(7″, Beta Recordings, 2006) [YouTube]
  161. They Might Be Giants ‘Call connected thru the NSA’ (They Might Be Ringtones, self-released, 2006)
  162. Arcade Fire ‎’Black mirror’ (Neon Bible, Merge, 2007) [YouTube]
  163. Passenger ‘Night vision binoculars‘ (Wicked Man’s Rest, Chalk Mark, 2007)
  164. Pet Shop Boys ‘Integral’ (Fundamental, Parlophone, 2006) [YouTube]
  165. A-Frames ‘Surveillance’ (from S/T, 2007) [Bandcamp]
  166. Private Lives Private Life‘ (12″, Soul Jazz Records, 2007)
  167. Roboton ‘The new scare’ (Self-released, 2007) [Bandcamp]
  168. They Might Be Giants (She was a) Hotel detective in the future(The Else, Idlewild Recordings, 2007)
  169. Keny Arkana ‘Ordre mondial’ ‎(Désobéissance, Because Music, 2008) [YouTube]
  170. Los Campesinos! ‘Death to Los Campesinos!’ (Whichita, 2008) [YouTube]
  171. LV ‘CCTV‘ (feat. Dandelion) (Hyperdub, 2008) [YouTube]
  172. Lyrics Born ‘Homeland Security (skit)’ ‎(Everywhere at Once, Anti-, 2008)
  173. Cold War Kids ‎’Against privacy’ (Loyalty to Loyalty, Downtown Music, 2008)
  174. Controlled Storms ‘Surveillance’ (Abandoned Amusement Parks, Self-released, 2008)
  175. Delaney Davidson ‘Stalker’ (Ghost songs, Self-released, 2008) [Bandcamp]
  176. James Ferraro ‘Surveillance’ (Postremo Mundus Techno-Symposium, New Age Tapes, 2008)
  177. Nite Jewel ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (Good Evening, Gloriette Records, 2008)
  178. Archive‘Controlling Crowds’ (Controlling Crowds, Warner Music, 2009)
  179. Brendan Benson ‘Eyes On The Horizon‘ (My Old, Familiar Frien, ATO, 2009)
  180. Wynter Gordon ‘Surveillance’ (Self-released, 2009) [Bandcamp]
  181. Lisa Lois ‘Watching you’ (Smoke, Sony Music, 2009) [YouTube]
  182. Pet Shop Boys ‎’Building a wall’ (Yes, Parlophone, 2009)
  183. Yo La Tengo ‘Nothing to hide’ (Popular Songs, Matador, 2009) [YouTube]
  184. Cave In ‘Droned’ (Anomalies Vol. 2, Hydra Head Records, 2010)
  185. Duran Duran ‘Being followed’ (All You Need Is Now, Skin Divers, 2010)
  186. KaterineTé-lé-phone‘ (Philippe Katerine, Barclay, 2010) [YouTube] 394dd4fa4b78f2cb835749046d02dc80.1000x1000x1
  187. MIA ‘The message’ (– /\/\ /\ Y /\, XL Recordings, 2010) [YouTube]
  188. THOU ‘The eyes of the world are upon you’ (Dwell in the darkness of thought and drink the poison of life, split with The City is the Tower, Hyperrealist, 2010) [Bandcamp]
  189. Paul WellerWake up the nation’  (Wake up the nation, Island Records, 2010) [YouTube]
  190. Women [Philadelphia] ‘KGB’ (No reasons, 2010) [Bandcamp]
  191. Your Inner Burden ‘My Privacy 2.0′ (Every Day is a Holiday, 2010) [Bandcamp]
  192. The Middle Ones ‘High school stalker‘ (Hello Saferide cover, album unknown, year unknown)
  193. Channel In Channel OutCalculate the surveillance’ (The author and the narrator, Karaoke Kalk, 2011) [Soundcloud]
  194. Stingray313* ‎’Who’s watching the watchers (Misinformation Campaign, Trust, 2011)
  195. The Streets ‘Something to hide’ (Cyberspace And Reds – Deluxe Mixtape, self-released, 2011) [Soundcloud]
  196. The Beach Boys ‎’The private life of Bill and Sue‘ (That’s Why God Made the Radio, Capitol Records, 2012)
  197. Belgrado ‘Panopticon’ (7”, La vida es un mus, 2012) [Bandcamp]
  198. Camera ‘RFID’ (2012) [Bandcamp]
  199. dEUS ‎’Fire up the Google beast algorithm‘ (Following Sea, Play It Again Sam, 2012)
  200. Heems ‘Computers’ (Nehru Jackets, self-released, 2012) [Bandcamp]
  201. Hidrogenesse ‘Historia del mundo contada por las computadoras‘ (Un dígito binario dudoso: Recital para Alan Turing, Austrohúngaro, 2012) [YouTube]
  202. The Offspring ‘The future is now(Days Go By, Columbia, 2012) a1752478485_10
  203. Scanner ‘Anytime (Headz)’ (Colofon & Compendium 1991-1994, Sub Rosa, 2012)
  204. The Smashing Pumpkins ‘Panopticon’‎ (Oceania, Martha’s Music, 2012) [YouTube]
  205. 2 Chainz ft. Pharrell ‘Feds Watching‘ (2013) [YouTube]
  206. Bart&Baker ‘Stop Googling me!‘ (feat. Marcella Puppini) (Entouka Productions, 2013) [YouTube]
  207. Belle and Sebastian ‘Your cover’s blown‘ (Rough Trade, 2013) [YouTube]
  208. Cage ‘Watch me’ (Kill the Architect, Eastern Conference, 2013) [Soundcloud]
  209. Dan Lacksman ‘I want my space’(Electric Dreams, 2013) [YouTube]
  210. Desaparecidos ‎’Anonymous‘ (7″, self-released, 2013) [Bandcamp]
  211. JPatterson Turn off your smartphone’ (Self-released, 2013) [YouTube]
  212. Melloquence ‘No privacy’ (Konsequence Muziq, 2013) [YouTube]
  213. Megadeth ‘Dance in the rain’ (Super Collider, 2013)
  214. Motrip feat. Elmo ‘Guten Morgen NSA’ (2013) [YouTube] artworks-000052964865-5hssus-t500x500
  215. Painted Caves ‘Flesh on tape’ (Surveillance, Shelter Press, 2013) [Soundcloud]
  216. Placebo ‘Too many friends’ (Loud Like Love, Vertigo, 2013) [YouTube]
  217. Priests ‘Watch you’ (Tape Two, Sisterpolygon Records, 2013)
  218. Skull:Axis ‘Data Retention Directive’ (The Transparent Society, Peripheral Records, 2013) [Soundcloud]
  219. Stromae ‘Carmen’ (Racine Carrée, Mercury, 2013) [YouTube]
  220. Yacht ‘Party at the NSA’ (Self-released, 2013) [PartyAtTheNSA]
  221. Anti-Flag ‎’1984′ (Archives Vol. 3: The B-Sides,  A-F Records, 2014)
  222. Big Data ‘The business of emotion’ (2014) [YouTube]
  223. Bone Tee & The Slughunters ‘Don’t go googling me‘ (One Foot in the Roots, self-released, 2014) [Soundcloud]
  224. CrayOn ‘Mais qui surveille les gardiens ?’ (Sans Filet, Yes Music, 2014) [DailyMotion]
  225. DVChamBerlin ‘Privacy’ (Self-released, 2014) [Bandcamp]
  226. Identity Theft ‘Sleep’ (The Future Hates the Past, Katabatik, 2014) [Bandcamp]
  227. Identity Theft ‘Targeted individuals(The Future Hates the Past, Katabatik, 2014) [Bandcamp] [Bandcamp]
  228. Rock, Paper, Cynic ‘Hello NSA (A Love Song of Mass Surveillance)‘ (2014) [YouTube]
  229. Shellac ‎’All the surveyors’ (Dude Incredible, Touch and Go, 2014)
  230. St. Vincent ‘Digital Witness’ (St. Vincent, Republic Records, 2014) [YouTube]
  231. Teknique ‘Facebook FBI’ (Self-released, 2014) [SoundHound]
  232. Thievery Corporation ‘The Heart’s a Lonely Hunter‘ (The Cosmic Game, Eighteenth Street Lounge Music, 2014)
  233. Wolfs From Dogs ‘Data centres’ (2014) [Bandcamp]
  234. Broken Water1984′ (Wrought, Night People, 2015) [YouTube]
  235. Heems ‘Patriot Act’ (Eat Pray Thug, Megaforce Records, 2015)
  236. High Cameras ‘Daddy needs privacy’ (Self-released, 2015) [Bandcamp] a1308931486_10
  237. Holly Herndon ‎’Home (Platform, 4AD, 2015) [YouTube]
  238. Holly Herndon ‎’Interference’ (Platform, 4AD, 2015) [YouTube]
  239. Maniac Abductor ‘Privacy for sale’ (Trash Assault, 2015) [Bandcamp]
  240. Mutoid Man ‘Surveillance’ (2015) [Bandcamp]
  241. Vision Fortune ‘Stalker’ ‎(Country Music, ATP Recordings, 2015) [Beatport]
  242. AGF ‘Snowden’ (Kon​:​3p>UTION to: e​[​VOL​]​ution, AGF Producktion, 2016) [Bandcamp]
  243. Anohni ‎’Watch me’ (Hopelessness, Secretly Canadian, 2016)
  244. Beginner ‘Ahna’ (Advanced Chemistry, Vertigo Berlin, 2016) [YouTube]
  245. FiveSidedDice ‘Big Brother’ (2016) [Bandcamp]
  246. Patrick Billings ‘Privacy invasion’ (Various Artists, Reggae World Riddim, Master Kat Productions, 2016)
  247. Peter Gabriel ‘The veil’ (Real World Records, 2016) [YouTube]
  248. James Ferraro ‘Security Broker‘ (Human Story 3) [YouTube]
  249. Jesus on the Moon ‘Panoptic’ (Echolalia, self-released, 2016) [Bandcamp]
  250. JPEGMAFIA & Freaky ‘Big Data / The Internet ain’t safe‘ (The 2nd Amendment, self-released, 2016) [Soundcloud]
  251. MsGNU ‘Terms and conditions’ (Stuck in Cyberspace, self-released, 2016) [YouTube]
  252. Ohmyboy & Wöllstein ‎’Fuck privacy’ (Burlesque Musique, 2016) [Beatport]
  253. Sam Sparro ‘Private lives’ (Quantum Physical 3: Conspiracy, Intuit, 2016) [YouTube]
  254. Wilco ‎’Locator’ (Schmilco, dPpm Records, 2016) [YouTube]
  255. Cloud Control ‘Panopticon’ (Zone, Ivy League Records, 2017) [YouTube]
  256. Cowbell ‘None of your business’ (Haunted Heart, 2017) [YouTube]
  257. Dadju ‘Bob Marley’ (Gentleman 2.0, 2017) [YouTube]
  258. Daniel B. Truen ‘Me, myself & A.I’ (Me, Myself and A.I.) [Bandcamp]
  259. Federico Sirianni ‘Mia madre sta su Facebook‘  (feat. Arturo Brachetti) (Il santo, 2017) [YouTube]
  260. Incubus Love in a time of surveillance(8, Island Records, 2017) [YouTube]
  261. Killa DBA ‘Data protection’ (Putting your bits where your bytes should be, Self-released, 2017) [Bandcamp]
  262. Nu-Mecca ‘Watching’ (So high, 2017) [Bandcamp]
  263. Prophets of Rage ‘Radical eyes (Prophets of Rage, Fantasy, 2017)
  264. Prophets of Rage ‘Take me higher’ (Prophets of Rage, Fantasy, 2017)
  265. Protect and Survive ‘Switch off your smartphone this Christmas’ (A Very Cherry Christmas – Vol. 12, Cherryade Records, 2017) [AmazingTunes]
  266. Stephen James Hewitt ‘My right to be forgotten‘ (Self-released, 2017) [Bandcamp]
  267. Steve Kemple ‘m a c h i n e l e a r n i n g _ v 1. 2′ (m a c h i n e l e a r n i n g) [Bandcamp]
  268. Sondre Lerche ‎’I’m always watching you’ (Pleasure, House of Hassle, 2017) [YouTube]
  269. The Magnetic Fields ‘’86 How I failed ethics’ (50 Song Memoir, Nonesuch, 2017) [YouTube] 71zqm9iw4rl._ss500_
  270. The Members ‘Smartphone junkie‘ (Smartphone, 2017) [YouTube]
  271. Mr. Bitterness And The Guilty Pleasures ‘This Brave New World’ (Songs From The Surveillance Age, 2017) [BlocSonic]
  272. Tilsonic and <radioaddict> ‘Snowden’ (Power Mad, self-released, 2017) [Bandcamp]
  273. Yeule ‎’Death of an AI’ (Coma, Zoom Lens, 2017) [YouTube]
  274. Young Machettes ‘Surveillance!!!’ (2017) [Bandcamp]
  275. Cardi B ‘Thru your phone‘ (Invasion of privacy, Atlantic, 2018) [YouTube]
  276. The 1975 ‘The man who married a robot / Love theme‘ (A brief inquiry into online relationships, Polydor, 2018) [YouTube]
  277. Interpol ‘Surveillance’ (Marauder, Matador) [Official]
  278. Muse ‘Algorithm’ (Simulation theory, Warner Bros.) [YouTube]
  279. Russian Computer Club ‘Watching you’ (Computer Aided Music / Watching you, 2018) [Bandcamp]
  280. Blank Statements ‘Privacy’ (Signs are Rampant, Tough Love, 2019) [Bandcamp]
  281. Gappy Ranks ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (Various Artists, Black Bird Riddim, Baco Records, 2019) [YouTube]
  282. Kari Faux ‘Leave me alone’ (Cry 4 Help, Change Minds, 2019) [YouTube]
  283. Netsky ‘Snitch’ (feat. Aloe Blacc) (Republic Records, 2019) [YouTube]
  284. Momus ‘Facial recognition’ (Akkordion, American Patchwork, 2019) [YouTube]
  285. Bell-Towers ‘Privacy’ (Junior Mix, Public Possession, 2020) [YouTube]
  286. Fontaines DC ‘Televised mind’ (A Hero’s Death, Partisan Record 2020) [YouTube]
  287. Frosty ft. Unknown ‘Under Surveillance‘ (2020) [YouTube]
  288. Jasmine Guffond ‘Dotcompound’ (Microphone Permission, Mego, 2020) [YouTube]
  289. Systemabsturz ‘Staatstrojaner‘ (2020) [Youtube]
  290. Boyracer ‘Digital friends’ (Assuaged, Emotional Response, 2021) [Bandcamp]
  291. Cadence Weapon ‘On me (feat. Manga Saint Hilare and Strict Face)‘ (Parallel World, eOne, 2021) [YouTube]evan-greer-spotify-is-surveillance
  292. Evan Greer ‘Surveillance capitalism(Spotify is surveillance, Get Better Records, 2021) [YouTube]
  293. Magdalena Bay ‘Secrets (Your fire)’ (Mercurial World, Luminelle Recordings, 2021) [YouTube]
  294. Modest Mouse ‘Transmitting receiving‘ (The Golden Casket, Epic, 2021) [YouTube]
  295. Radio Row ‘Track and Trace‘ (I Bloody Told You This Would Happen!, 2021) [Bandcamp]
  296. Signs of New Growth (S.O.N.G.) ‘Surveillance/Carpe Diem’ (2021) [Bandcamp]
  297. Trusty Bench Boys ‘There’s one I in Microsoft Teams‘ (There’s One I in Microsoft Team, 2021) [Bandcamp]
  298. GLOR1A ‘Sad surveillance’:(2021) [YouTube]
  299. TerryTheVoice ‘Under surveillance‘ (2021) [YouTube]
  300. Autodidact ‘Surveillance culture’ (2022) [Bandcamp]
  301. Bob Vylan ‘Phone tap (Alexa)’ (2022) [Bandcamp]
  302. Calm. ‘To live and die in dystopia (feat. Niko Is & Myka 9)’ (2022) [Bandcamp]
  303. Confess ‘Under surveillance’ (2022) [Bandcamp]

Compiled by Gloria González Fuster. Originally put together in preparation for DJ Soeur Veillance‘s set at VUB’s Law, Science, Technology and Society (LSTS) Research Group 15th Anniversary Party (and occasionally updated since). Please note this list does not pretend to be comprehensive. For more songs, see the Best privacy songs of 2018, the Best privacy songs of 2019, the Best privacy songs of 2020, the Best privacy songs of 2021. For more writing about the songs, see here.

A number of privacy and data protection experts who might wish to remain anonymous contributed to this list with their kind suggestions. I am extremely grateful to all of them, and also to Gary T. Marx, David Barnard-Wills, Jolien Ghyselinck, Brendan Van Alsenoy, Sebastian Golla, Loer Franck, Sarah Eskens, Niels van Dijk, Mathias Vermeulen, Jörn Reinhardt, Josep Martín, Isabel Díaz, Cristina Gallego, Justin Currie, Yolanda Gallego, Laura García, Óscar Hidalgo, Judith, and Fátima.