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Towards data justice? The ambiguity of anti-surveillance resistance in political activism

Dencik, Lina ORCID:, Hintz, Arne ORCID: and Cable, Jonathan 2016. Towards data justice? The ambiguity of anti-surveillance resistance in political activism. Big Data and Society 3 (2) , pp. 1-12. 10.1177/2053951716679678

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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.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Uncontrolled Keywords: Snowden; surveillance; activism; data justice
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 2053-9517
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 November 2016
Date of Acceptance: 24 October 2016
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 10:36

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