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Towards data justice? The ambiguity of anti-surveillance resistance in political activism
Big Data & Society, Volume: 3, Issue: 2, Start page: 205395171667967
Swansea University Author: Joe Cable
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DOI (Published version): 10.1177/2053951716679678
The Snowden leaks, first published in June 2013, provided unprecedented insights into the operations of state-corporate surveillance, highlighting the extent to which everyday communication is integrated into an extensive regime of control that relies on the ‘datafication’ of social life. Whilst suc...
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The Snowden leaks, first published in June 2013, provided unprecedented insights into the operations of state-corporate surveillance, highlighting the extent to which everyday communication is integrated into an extensive regime of control that relies on the ‘datafication’ of social life. Whilst such data-driven forms of governance have significant implications for citizenship and society, resistance to surveillance in the wake of the Snowden leaks has predominantly centred on techno-legal responses relating to the development and use of encryption and policy advocacy around privacy and data protection. Based on in-depth interviews with a range of social justice activists, we argue that there is a significant level of ambiguity around this kind of anti-surveillance resistance in relation to broader activist practices, and critical responses to the Snowden leaks have been confined within particular expert communities. Introducing the notion of ‘data justice’, we therefore go on to make the case that resistance to surveillance needs to be (re)conceptualized on terms that can address the implications of this data-driven form of governance in relation to broader social justice agendas. Such an approach is needed, we suggest, in light of a shift to surveillance capitalism in which the collection, use and analysis of our data increasingly comes to shape the opportunities and possibilities available to us and the kind of society we live in.
Snowden, surveillance, activism, data justice
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Research for this article was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the UK (ESRC).