Abstracts of Talks

Surveillance, Copyright, Privacy

The End of the Open Internet


Dunedin, New Zealand

Jan 30 – Feb 1, 2014








Nicky Hager: Surveillance and Privacy in the Snowden Era 

[Castle 1, 3pm-4.30pm, Thursday 30 January]


This talk will describe the development of mass surveillance systems during the past generation and New Zealand’s part in this story. He will discuss Anglo-American intelligence history, digital electronics and the war-on-terror environment that together have led to a scale of spying that threatens the Internet as we briefly knew it. Digital technology has of course also hugely changed how people live their lives. This talk will look at what privacy means and how we can protect it in this era of on-line lives and Internet surveillance.


Nicky Hager is an author and investigative journalist based in Wellington, New Zealand. He specialises in investigating hard-to-document subjects, such as military and intelligence agencies, public relations activities and the unseen side of politics. Nicky is the author of FIVE books, including Secret Power, an in-depth exposé of New Zealand and international intelligence systems, particularly the US Echelon system that targets phone calls and email. US intelligence specialist Jeffrey Richelson described this book as “a masterpiece of investigative reporting.” His most recent book, Other People’s Wars, focuses on New Zealand military and intelligence involvement in Afghanistan and the war on terror, while updating his electronic intelligence research. Nicky has also authored a string of ground-breaking articles and is a regular contributor to the New Zealand newspaper Sunday Star-Times.



Graham Murdock: Surveillance and Secrecy in the Age of Big Data

                  [Castle 1, 1.30pm-3pm, Friday 31 January]


The roll out of broadband connectivity coupled with the exponential increase in computer capacity has ushered in the age of ‘Big Data’.State agencies and commercial companies are recording, aggregating and interrogating every aspect of people’s on-line lives, constructing new economic, social, and political classifications of dangerousness, credit worthiness, and compliance. But information flows remain highly asymmetric. While the activities of citizens and consumers are increasingly transparent to governments and major corporations their own intentions and actions remain opaque, concealed behind walls erected to protect ‘national security’ and ‘commercial privilege’ and misrepresented by concerted public relations activities designed to promote carefully selected accounts. This produces radical asymmetries in the ability ground strategies of action in informed analysis.


This present paper has three aims. Firstly, it sets out to map the emerging landscape of ‘Big Data’ and its core dynamics. Secondly, drawing on recent cases of whistleblowing it argues that investigative journalism and critical scholarship are more essential than ever as sources of informed challenge to the abuse of state and corporate power. Thirdly, it explores how these interventions might be supported and advanced in a context where economic and political pressures are combining to undermine their viability.


Graham Murdock is Professor of Culture and Economy at Loughborough University. His research examines the role of communications in the constitution of modernity, the relations between culture, communications, power and inequality through a distinctive critical political economy, and the organisation of public definitions and responses to perceived threats and risks. His writings have been widely anthologised, cited, and incorporated into university curricula around the world and been translated into nineteen languages.  He has held the Leerstoel (Teaching Chair) at the Free University of Brussels, the Bonnier Chair at Stockholm University, and been a visiting professor at the universities of: Auckland, Bergen, California at San Diego, Mexico City, Helsinki and Fudan. His recent publications include as co-editor; Digital Dynamics: Engagements and Disconnections (Hampton Press 2010); The Idea of the Public Sphere (Rowman and Littlefield 2010); and The Handbook of Political Economy of Communication (Wiley-Blackwell 2011). His current work explores the struggle to establish a cultural common on the internet.



Vikram Kumar: The View From The Coalface: Surveillance, copyright, privacy in a post-Snowden era

                  [Castle 1, 11am-12.30pm Saturday 1 February]


MEGA was launched as ‘The Privacy Company’ in January 2013, specifically designed for a world that Edward Snowden subsequently revealed. There are significant challenges in delivering online services meant for everyone- far more so when delivering secure services that ‘just work’. At a time when a business model built on privacy is still in doubt, additional costs and pressures come from governments’ continued belief in the value of surveillance and copyright owners aggressively tackling infringement.


How is MEGA operating in this environment? What are the key lessons learnt? What does the future look like? And, what can you do?


Vikram Kumar has been CEO of Mega Ltd. since February 2013. Mega provides cloud storage and collaboration services globally. Prior to this, Vikram was Chief Executive of InternetNZ, a not-for-profit organisation working to keep the Internet ‘open and uncapturable’. He has also worked with government (State Services Commission) and Telecom NZ in New Zealand.


Vikram has over two decades of experience and interest in thinking about the social, economic, political and cultural impact of the Internet.

Parallel Sessions and Roundtable Events
(Please note: programme is currently provisional)

Session I: Law, Censorship and Surveillance


Cybersearches: the scope of the computer search provisions of the Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Judge David Harvey, District Court, Auckland New Zealand

In this paper I shall address the provisions of the Search and Surveillance Act 2012 that deal with computer searches and remote access searching – or it could be generally and popularly classified as ‘cyber searching’. I shall first consider the structure of the search and seizure provisions as they relate to data and to computer systems. I shall then comment upon whether or not these provisions provide the answer to problems with computer searches identified by the Law Commission in their 2007 report. It will be argued that although the legislation provides generalised solutions, considerable care will have to be undertaken by the authority seeking a search warrant and the officer issuing a search warrant to ensure that:

(a) the warrant is properly issued,

(b) it is properly grounded in terms of the pre-requisites before the issue of a search warrant, and

(c) it properly describes the target or subject of the search.


These issues will involve, at times, a consideration of the way in which a particular technology operates or the use of programs that are employed, especially in the field of remote searches.

The issue of data acquisition by search can often involve large quantities of data some of which will be relevant and some irrelevant. The Act does not address any processes that should be undertaken in assessing relevance or protecting privilege, although ss 136 to 147 of the Act address issues of privilege and confidentiality. This is in contrast to the procedures that are in place for example for examination orders under ss 33 – 43 of the Act. These are quite specific in terms of process and the provision of protections.


The vexed question of remote access will be considered together with a discussion of issues arising in the context of extraterritorial searches. I shall consider the applicability of the ‘plain view’ doctrine as it applies to computer searches, and some of the problems that arise from Cloud based materials. There is a significant difference of opinion about whether or not remote searching can take place under an ordinary search warrant or under a remote access search warrant. The expansive interpretation gives investigative authorities considerable scope for what, in the author’s view, should properly be dealt with under the remote access provisions of the Act.


Ubiquitous Online Surveillance and the Right to Anonymity

 Angela Daly, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia


Internet and mobile phone users are experiencing increasingly ubiquitous surveillance of their movements and behaviour by corporations such as online service providers, Internet service providers and mobile network operators. These entities conduct surveillance for their own ends (e.g. advertising and marketing), yet also for the state’s benefit (as the recent PRISM revelations have confirmed), as well as the benefit of other corporate entities (e.g. detecting instances of ‘piracy’ on behalf of intellectual property owners). The developments being brought about by the ‘Internet of Things’ such as Google Glass seem to exacerbate this trend towards a lack of anonymity in the digital sphere as well as in ‘tangible’ public places.


Given this context, this paper aims to examine the legal status of one tool that users have to defend themselves against this incursion into their privacy, namely anonymisation techniques. These ways to remain anonymous online will be explained, before proceeding to a determination of the legal response to online anonymity in various English-speaking jurisdictions including Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US. In addition, the way anonymity has been approached by the private regulatory schemes of major Internet corporations such as social networks in their non-negotiable terms of service will also be considered. Whether a ‘right to anonymity’ can be discerned as part of existing law and practice on free expression, data protection and privacy, or whether a new right along these lines is desirable, will be discussed.


Internet Filtering: A strategy of responsibilization for crime prevention

Caroline Keen, Auckland University, New Zealand


The exposure of children to inappropriate online content or the availability of pornography involving child sexual abuse are (quite understandably) emotive concerns about the protection of children, which make public opinion more accepting of the implementation of internet filtering systems. The politicization of these and other perceived online risks, such as websites containing instructions or incitement to criminal acts, are social concerns that may serve to justify government proposals for broadening the scope of filtering. Given the capacity of filtering systems to not only block access to objectionable materials, but to also monitor, detect and identify IP addresses (and by extension, users), it is not inconceivable that such information could be used for managing or preventing, rather than reacting to, criminalized online activities. However, the extent to which governments use filtering in this way to manage risks will vary from state to state and will necessarily depend on the degree of cooperation that can be secured from key non-governmental and commercial actors. By employing what David Garland (2001) calls a ‘responsiblization strategy’, governments can appear to facilitate a kind of neoliberal governance that enlists the collaboration of non-state actors and/or private entities in projects to prevent (or reduce) criminal opportunities. This concept of responsibilization is explored through a comparison of approaches to internet filtering in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.





Session II: Surveillance and Social Theories


Consent of the Surveilled: Transparency, power and privilege

Dr Kevin Fisher, University of Otago, New Zealand


Surveillance and Simulation: Baudrillard, Deleuze and control

Dr Brett Nichols, University of Otago, New Zealand

The End of Digital Sharing: A dis-associated milieu?

Dr Simon Ryan, University of Otago, New Zealand


Edward Snowden has revealed the obscene presence in the lives of everyone for whom the free use of the internet is an essential part of daily life, of an NSA-led global network of extreme surveillance. The state, corporate, and self-censorship that such extreme surveillance of public and private communications imposes, constitutes an additional and direct threat to the positive functioning of the libidinal economy in an age in which the desire of individuals and groups is already threatened with commodification through subjection to the demands of the market by those who exploit for profit the technologies of telecommunications, the media, culture and program industries. Through the publications of Ars Industrialis – the Paris-based association internationale pour une politique industrielle des technologies de l’esprit – Bernard Stiegler and his co-researchers have analysed the destruction of desire through consumerist exploitation and its negative impact on processes of psychic individuation and social adaption. They argue that to consign technologies of the human spirit such as digital telecommunications to a control function “systematically forbids and impedes the development of new and original social practices”. In this paper, I examine the ways in which the attack on the open internet by the corporate military-industrial state undermines the building of an economy of contribution (Stiegler et al) and the formation of an associated milieu (G.Simondon) which enable a productive economy of desire.



Session III: Copyright Cultures


Copyright, Creative Commons and Libre Culture in New Zealand

Dr Mark McGuire, University of Otago, New Zealand


In 2001, Lawrence Lessig pointed out that, when considering of the ownership, regulation and governance of the virtual commons, we must take into account the “physical” layer, the “logical” or “code” layer, and the “content” layer, which includes the text, images, music, animations, movies and other digital material accessed over the internet. In an effort to free up the “content” layer, creativecommons.org went online in 2002, allowing individuals to attach “some rights reserved” licences to their work. This development was in response to changes in US copyright laws that the Creative Commons founders (including Lessig) argued hindered access to creative works. Since then, the Creative Commons Licenses have been ported to over fifty jurisdictions, including New Zealand.


As in the US, copyright has become more restrictive in New Zealand. The introduction of the “Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011” enables owners of copyrighted works to penalize individuals for violating their copyright through online file sharing without providing adequate protection from unfair prosecution. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement that New Zealand is negotiating with the US and nine other countries, could extend the length of copyright of creative work from the life of the author plus 50 years after his or her death, by a further 20 years.


As Yochai Benkler notes (2006), formal institutions are working to extend the scope and reach of excusive rights over cultural resources, and the primary countervailing force against exclusivity is the cultural and social response represented by the nascent “free culture” movement and the growing individual practice of sharing work with others to create a domain of free resources for common use. In this paper, I discuss institutional efforts to strengthen copyright in New Zealand and discuss the use of Creative Commons licenses as an alternative. I then review critiques of the Creative Commons movement by David M. Berry and Giles Moss (2008) and others, who point out that it supports the existing system that treats culture and communication as private, subject to property rights, and as a resource to be commercially exploited.


Berry, David M., and Giles Moss. “On the “Creative Commons”: A Critique of the Commons without Commonalty.” Libre Culture: Mediations on Free Culture. Eds. Berry, David M. and Giles Moss. Winnipeg: Pygmalion Books, 2008. 22-34.

Benkler, Yochai. The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Lessig, Lawrence. The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World. 1st ed. New York: Random House, 2001.




Session IV: Social Media, Surveillance and Networked Societies


Situated ICT Moralities: Personal use of the internet at the office through the lens of productive moral gray zones

Adrian Cloete, University of Montreal, Canada


Research and media reports show that current employer-employee practices related to the personal use of the Internet in North American organizations are fraught with unresolved issues and unforeseen consequences. In spite of signed policies prohibiting such action, employees are regularly shopping or playing games online, bidding at Internet auctions, writing personal emailed messages, visiting pornographic sites, and downloading copyrighted music.


In increasing frequency, employees are losing their jobs over their personal Internet usage in the workplace. Without a doubt, answers are needed as the human and material costs continue to rise. The personal Internet usage by employees is leading employers to spend money on the electronic surveillance of employees to confront perceived issues such as declining productivity and real issues, such as legal liability and use of company resources.


To deepen an understanding of current employer-employee practices related to the personal use of the Internet in North American office workplaces, it was valuable to focus on the emergence and sustainability of Moral Codes in an organizational context. Research into the notion of situated moralities in the workplace – expanding the concept of “moral gray zones” (Anteby, 2008) beyond the context of industrial production – has proved most useful. Also helpful in understanding authorized and unauthorized workplace activities was various areas of management studies, such as organizational misbehaviour and counterproductive work behaviour, informal versus formal approaches to employer-supervisor-employee dynamics, as well as concepts of control and surveillance.


This presentation describes the extent to which a moral code has emerged among office workers around non-work related Internet usage. And, on the other side of the organizational relationship, a moral code has also emerged among supervisors that lead them to overlook violations of Internet usage policies among office employees.


Recognizing that both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies have limitations, a combined approach was used in an ethnographically inspired search of workplace patterns among office workers of a government department to uncover and describe this ever-present and ever-growing phenomenon.


Facebook Knows I’m a Dog…So What?

Louis Sangieres, Université de Montréal, Canada


Scholars have regularly argued that the Internet is an amazing tool of corporate surveillance (Fuchs 2012, Bruno 2012), positing that this allows corporation to induce behaviour change in their users more easily. By making information gathering incredibly easy, the Internet even offers an opportunity to alter identity construction at a very young age (Steeves 2012). In this paper I intend to show that concerns over corporate surveillance are overly exaggerated.


I will first review the structure of the arguments put forth by those concerned by corporate surveillance over the internet. I will show that it is unconvincing on two counts. First it fails to show that information gathering by corporate actors results in effective and meaningful behaviour changes. Second it fails to give a satisfying account of what mechanisms would account for such changes, were they identified.


Finally I will show, using various studies (Buckingham 2008, Ito et. al. 2012) that despite the (unconvincing) claim of the critic of corporate surveillance, what we actually see, is that the Internet is a place where identity construction happens normally, and maybe even more autonomously than ever before. I will base my claim on the model of identity formation developed by Luyckx et. al. (2011), showing how the Internet, because it makes information gathering easy, and because it provides spaces outside the gaze of authority figures (boyd 2008) offers greater opportunities in what Luyckx et. al. (2011) call commitment formation (understood as commitment exploration in breadth and commitment making) and commitment evaluation (understood as commitment exploration in depth and identification with commitment).


Contesting Control in Surveillance Societies

Dr Sy Taffel, Massey University, New Zealand


Whilst there exists a range of contemporaneous discourses surrounding the end of the open Internet, the notion that the Internet was until recently “open” is one which requires questioning. Indeed, for a range of activist projects, the default position has long been that unencrypted telecommunications present a serious security breach, and are likely to have negative ramifications for the individuals and groups involved.


Recent developments such as the revelations regarding the NSA-run PRISM program, the imprisonment of social media users for making open calls for citizens to engage in direct action, and state-led attempts to curtail online communications during periods of civil unrest, highlight that security measures taken to preserve anonymity and encrypt telecommunications are a useful strategy for contesting the pervasive surveillance apparatus of the state and large corporations within societies of control.


This paper explores a range of such anti-surveillance software and hardware technologies including TOR, GPG, Googlesharing, and FreedomBox, alongside activist email services, blogging and social network platforms designed to preserve user privacy in a variety of ways. Additionally the paper will highlight the activity of tech-activist collectives such as Hacktionlab (UK) in promoting the application of these platforms within wider activist communities.


Following Bernard Steigler’s prescriptions surrounding the economy of contribution as an alternative to prevalent pathologies of control, the paper contends that if we are to contribute towards a sense of care through digital literacy – whereby individuals better understand the footprints and traces left by their digital activities – it is pivotal to not only delineate the increasingly pervasive forms of surveillance enacted by state and corporate actors, but to outline various methods by which control over communicative spaces can be contested.



Session V: The Politics of Privacy


“We Now Know Who You Are”: Privacy, anonymity and the unmasking of Reddit’s Violentacrez

Emily van der Nagel, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia


In October 2012, blog site Gawker ‘unmasked’ a prominent member of social media site reddit by publishing his personal details online. Violentacrez was notorious for posting explicit and offensive content to reddit, which led Gawker to label him ‘the biggest troll on the web’. When ‘doxing’ – making someone’s personal details publicly available – is used as a form of moral judgment and punishment by the news media, it raises some complex questions about the role and importance of anonymity in discourse regarding online privacy.


Although there is currently much anxiety over the perceived loss of privacy that occurs when people use social media sites, control over who has access to personal information is constantly negotiated by both social media users and platforms. This paper argues that anonymity is a social practice, and one that has important implications for online privacy: the practicing of anonymity through selectively revealing personal information on social media is a way that users take control over their online identity. Despite this, anonymity is often neglected in the literature around online identity management. Similarly, within a Western legal framework, much attention has been paid to privacy, while the role of anonymity in communication is unclear.


Doxing as a punishment for behaviour deemed to be unacceptable online reveals a tension in how privacy is valued. The doxing of Violentacrez meant that he was subjected to much scrutiny about what he chose to post online and why, while the blogger who doxed him went largely unexamined. This paper investigates the significance of anonymity practices on social media sites, and examines whose decisions matter in this forced forfeiture of privacy.



Digital Democracy Behind the Great Firewall: Ambiguity, humour and language games

Dr Paola Voci, University of Otago, New Zealand


“Despite being one of the most controlled and censored online environments on the planet, it is also still the freest space for self expression in China.” (Jeremy Goldkorn, founder of Danwei.org)


While issues of privacy and control have dominated discussions over the “death” of a broadly understood “western” Internet, the Chinese Internet has been “dead” for a long time. From the start, in fact it was officially developed under strict and very visible control and policing strategies. In the PRC, everybody knows that the Internet is heavily surveilled both virtually -via IP blocking, DNS, URL and packet filters, etc – and via human agents (allegedly over 60,000 Internet spy employees). Controversial content is not only killed online, but people are severely punished (fined, physically abused and detained for shockingly long period of times).


Yet, digital democracy is arguably very much at work. Without falling into romantic and distorted perceptions of the Internet as the means through which civil society will grow and radical reforms (if not revolutions) will originate, the Chinese Internet offers a very distinctive and creative response to the autarchy of the state. Humour and ambiguity are used to keep alternative political discourse floating in puns, photoshopped images and seemingly cute but in fact razor-sharp animations. In this paper I analyse examples of such light (anonymous, amateur and free-circulating) practices through which censorship is bypassed and counter-discourses are developed – such as ”the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon” a very complex and unstable long list of Internet memes, the “Little Rabbit, Be Good” video card (a new year animation that calls for a bloody revolution), the Revolutionary Model Opera version of “Beat it”.


Seeking Support In Secret

Sonja Vivienne, University of Queensland, Australia


In mid 2012 the highest court in Russia ruled against gay pride parades in Moscow for the next 100 years. In 2013 a federal bill banned the distribution of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors. Homophobia thrives not just at legal and political levels but is widespread among the general population; according to a 2013 survey 74% believe that homosexuality should not be accepted by society. As gay teens struggle to find support in public space they increasingly find affirmation online, in closed groups like Deti-404 (The Observer, 2013).


Meanwhile, Bradley Manning, the young man at the centre of a WikiLeaks scandal in 2010, has come out as transgender and has requested that ‘starting today you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility)’ (press release, Aug 22, 2013). Chelsea Manning is currently serving 35 years in a male prison facility where she has been informed that the army will not support hormone therapy or sex-reassignment therapy.


As surveillance of everyday engagement online is increasingly acknowledged by government and private enterprise (including Google’s gmail service) and young people around the world are being alerted to the dangers of cyber-bullying and online predators, how are social perceptions of privacy and safety shifting? Is a closed group on ‘VK’ (the second biggest social network service in Europe, after Facebook) private enough to provide assurance to young queer Russians? Where will Chelsea seek affirmation with restricted online access in a male prison? Can the Dark Web provide an alternative for subaltern publics? Or does the technical expertise and tenacity required to access these spaces of supposedly amplified security make them unattainable for disenfranchised minorities?



Session VI: Roundtable Discussion


Is Copyright Law Killing The Music Industry?

Facilitated by John Egenes, University of Otago, New Zealand


Session VII: Governance By Code?


Institutional Corruption, Exploits and Legitimacy: Understanding the commodification of malware

Shenja va der Graaf, London School of Economics, United Kingdom


Contemporary societies around the globe are facing a multitude of challenges that deeply affect the quality of life. They have to find ways to cope with emerging global and digital markets, to produce innovative economies and effective public services, to maintain social cooperation, to produce legitimate governance and trust, and so forth. Crucial in the ability of societies to deal with these issues is their institutional infrastructure. Yet, to adapt and innovate traditional institutions, and to develop new ones for dealing with these issues, is complex; and, as societal challenges come with a history, they are value-loaded by definition, it requires a deep knowledge of how institutions are formed, how they function and how they shape outcomes.


Against this backdrop, this paper examines an “underground economy” of computer exploits. In the past hackers could be seen to produce content and to trade or sell exploits amongst themselves (often for reputation purposes). More recently, however, a market for zero-day exploits – those for which there is no available patch – can be detected fostering a service culture that has brought about a wide range of specialized providers for all stages in the malware-monetization life-cycle. This paper seeks to yield insight into the dynamic of legitimate exploit markets, thereby highlighting a seller of vulnerability information and a legitimate institutional buyer, here, government agencies and large corporations. It is concerned with systematic yet legal practices of so-called “institutional corruption” that, arguably, undermines the integrity of an institution, or public trust in an institution. By drawing attention to the configuration of modular, temporary and multi-sided organization designs across institutional boundaries, the paper can demonstrate how these designs in some cases are utilized to legally divert the purpose of an institution of which intruding on people’s privacy (as well as other nation states) becomes everyday more apparent.



The Net Is (Not) Evil: Transparency, surveillance and governance

Associate Professor Melissa de Zwart, University of Adelaide, Australia


‘The world is not sliding, but galloping into a new transnational dystopia. This development has not been properly recognized outside of national security circles. It has been hidden by secrecy, complexity and scale. The internet, our greatest tool of emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen. The internet is a threat to human civilization.’

Julian Assange, Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet, OR Books, New York, 2012


These words were written by Julian Assange in October 2012, from his room in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Thus they predate by many months the radical action taken by Edward Snowden to disclose a vast cache of US intelligence which revealed that the US government was in fact spying on its own citizens (and citizens of many other jurisdictions).

Surprisingly, the fallout from the Snowden revelations have focused largely on the drama of his situation, rather than his message. Are we now having the conversations we need to have about the internet, control and surveillance? Have Snowden’s radical and deliberate actions had the impact they should have had in prompting us to reassess our relationship with our information?


This paper will consider the role of internet governance in this context, considering the centralized power of private players such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It will consider the diminishing role of law and the increasing power of private contractual regulation, and the consequences this has had for modern society. It will consider whether contractual models developed for intellectual property licensing have shaped the nature of our internet and our connection to it as passive consumers.


Session VIII: Roundtable Discussion

OEW and Open Source in Education: Issues and successes

Facilitated by Dr Erika Pearson, University of Otago, New Zealand


Session IX: The Politics of Big Data


Citizen, Subject, Panspectron: Datamining and popular, commercial and state surveillance

Dr John Farnsworth, University of Otago, New Zealand


The paper explores the increasingly varied ways that datamining and web analytics can be constructed by different interests. It also explores how, in turn, these shape the organization of citizens, publics and subjects. Typically, datamining is seen as an extension of corporate or state strategies that extract data from ‘big data’ so that it can be used to track, identify or anticipate patterns of behaviour. The data is used a means of managing subjects, converting them into data points, ‘dividuals’, consistent with De Landa’s (1991) idea of the panspectron and Deleuze’s concept of the society of control (Deleuze 1989).


However, there are an expanding variety of datamining practices that are either resistive, popular or humanitarian. None of these readily conform with the idea of datamining as a means of surveillance. Indeed, Guattari suggests these offer ways to ‘resingularize’ individuals and offer emancipatory possibilities.


This paper draws on a range of examples to argue that datamining involves sets of complex practices and repertoires pursued by different publics and alliances that either utilise datamining for popular or humanitarian ends, or struggle over how it is constituted.


The paper outlines instances ranging from analytics used in the Christchurch earthquakes through to sophisticated forms of popular, commercial and regulatory datamining: these include such diverse areas as OpenStreetMaps, the gambling industry, health care usage, sports technologies and other domains, including bibliographic software. It suggests that many of these datamining processes are constantly contested as digital systems continue to develop.


Using a political economy perspective, it concludes by asking whether the early innovation in algorithms and datamining will give way to concentrations of ownership as industries mature.



De Landa, Manuel. War in the age of intelligent machines. (New York: Zone Books, 1991).

Deleuze, Gilles “Postscript on the control societies” in Negotiations (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995).

Guattari, Félix. Cartographies Schizoanalytiques (Paris: Galilée, 1989)



Occupy, Resist, Produce: Cyber resistance in Italy

Massimiliana Urbano, University of Otago, New Zealand


The physical action of reclaiming spaces away from the control of hegemonic political power has been and still is one of the main features of Italian radical movements. Social spaces have been occupied and transformed into sites of resistance to claim a right to think and live differently through the production of new and alternative forms of knowledge and culture. Alongside the occupation of space, social media has also opened new possibilities for citizens to participate in the production of counter-hegemonic practices, although these possibilities have been shaped by the influence of several factors. The potentiality of connecting people intrinsic to the nature of new digital technologies revealed itself to be a serious threat to neoliberal biopolitics. This leads to an increasing need for the State to monitor everyday communication in the name of social security. Considering the complex political and socio-cultural context in Italy, this study provides an account of how subcultures of resistance have developed by shifting radical practices of political activism to the virtual spaces of social media. This development takes place in the context of increasing pressures of control and surveillance by national and supranational institutions. Virtual spaces are then similarly occupied and become sites of communicative guerrilla activism, where reality can be re-invented and objects and symbols linked to new meanings.


Session X: Digital Erasure


Should Australians Have A Right To Be Forgotten By Their Intelligence Agencies?

Dr John Selby, Macquarie University, Australia


This paper explores whether a new right to be forgotten could be a means of restoring the balance of privacy rights of Australians in the face of the expanded gathering, retention and distribution of data by Australian intelligence agencies revealed through the information leaked by the whistle-blower Edward Snowden. For example, Snowden leaks revealed that in 2008, the Australian Defence Signals Directorate (now known as the Australian Signals Directorate) advised its UK-based equivalent, the GCHQ, that it could “share bulk, unselected, un-minimised metadata [including medical, legal, religious or restricted business information] as long as there is no intent to target an Australian national – unintentional collection is not viewed as a significant issue”, and that “ASIO and AFP are currently reviewing how SIGINT information can be used by non-intelligence agencies”.


Scholarly and public debates about introducing a right to be forgotten into the laws of the European Union and the state of California have tended to focus upon concerns that citizens have over the expanded data collection and data sharing practices of private sector entities and government agencies other than intelligence agencies. This paper builds upon that literature by exploring the extent to which such a right might overcome deficiencies in the existing data handling practices of intelligence agencies such as ASIO, ASIS and the ASD.


Whilst the legislation which grants powers to those intelligence agencies contains obligations for those agencies to destroy retained data (e.g. s31 of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (Cth)) and restrictions on the sharing of intelligence information concerning Australian persons (e.g. s15(5) of the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (Cth)), oversight of the agencies’ compliance with those obligations by the Inspector-General of Intelligence has arguably been inadequate. Consequently, empowering Australians through an enhanced power of deletion within a broader right to be forgotten might be one method through which Australian Intelligence Agencies could be compelled to better manage their data collection, retention and communication practices so as to more effectively comply with their existing privacy obligations.



Captured At Birth? Intimate surveillance and digital legacies

Dr Tama Leaver, Curtin University, Australia


From social media to CCTV cameras, surveillance practices have been largely normalised in contemporary cultures. While sousveillance – surveillance and self-surveillance by everyday individuals – is often situated as a viable means of subverting and making visible surveillance practices, this is premised on those being surveyed having sufficient agency to actively participate in escaping or re-directing an undesired gaze (Albrechtslund, 2008; Fernback, 2013; Mann, Nolan, & Wellman, 2002). This paper, however, considers the challenges that come with what might be termed intimate surveillance: the processes of recording, storing, manipulating and sharing information, images, video and other material gathered by loved ones, family members and close friends. Rather than considering the complex negotiations often needed between consenting adults in terms of what material can, and should, be shared about each other, this paper focuses on the unintended digital legacies created about young people, often without their consent. As Deborah Upton (2013, p. 42) has argued, for example, posting first ultrasound photographs on social media has become a ritualised and everyday part of process of visualising and sharing the unborn. For many young people, their – often publicly shared – digital legacy begins before birth. Along a similar line, a child’s early years can often be captured and shared in a variety of ways, across a range of platforms, in text, images and video. The argument put forward is not that such practices are intrinsically wrong, or wrong at all. Rather, the core issue is that so many of the discussions about privacy and surveillance put forward in recent years presume that those under surveillance have sufficient agency to at least try and do something about it. When parents and others intimately survey their children and share that material – almost always with the very best intentions – they often do so without any explicit consideration of the privacy, rights or (likely unintended) digital legacy such practices create. A legacy which young people will have to, at some point, wrestle with, especially in a digital landscape increasingly driven by ‘real names’ policies (Zoonen, 2013). Inverting the overused media moral panic about young people’s sharing practices on social media, this paper argues that young people should be more concerned about the quite possibly inescapable legacy their parents’ documenting and sharing practices will create. Ensuring that intimate surveillance is an informed practice, better educational resources and social media literacy practices are needed for new parents and others responsible for managing the digital legacies of others.


Albrechtslund, A. (2008). Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance. First Monday, 13(3). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2142/1949

Fernback, J. (2013). Sousveillance: Communities of resistance to the surveillance environment. Telematics and Informatics, 30(1), 11–21. doi:10.1016/j.tele.2012.03.003

Lupton, D. (2013). The Social Worlds of the Unborn. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Mann, S., Nolan, J., & Wellman, B. (2002). Sousveillance: Inventing and Using Wearable Computing Devices for Data Collection in Surveillance Environments. Surveillance & Society, 1(3), 331–355.

Zoonen, L. van. (2013). From identity to identification: fixating the fragmented self. Media, Culture & Society, 35(1), 44–51. doi:10.1177/0163443712464557



Making Molehills Out Of Mountains: Reconceptualising consumer privacy literacy in social networking environments

Liam Pomfret, University of Queensland, Australia


This paper discusses the relationship between consumers’ privacy literacy, and their conceptualization and framing of their social exchanges and information disclosure online. Some of the biggest threats to privacy today stem from information consumers’ willingly and wilfully disclose about their daily lives through posts and updates on websites such as Facebook and Twitter (Hugl 2011). Though awareness of privacy is arguably at an all-time high, with consumer surveys showing an ever growing level of concern for privacy (Madden 2012), privacy concern has seemed to be a poor predictor of consumers’ actual privacy protection practises (Dwyer et al. 2007; Livingstone 2008; Tufekci 2008). Much of consumer communication and sharing on these websites continues to be done in the open, in full view of everyone in the world with an internet connection. This has been described in the literature as the “privacy paradox” (Norberg et al. 2007).


Recent research by Pomfret & Previte (2012) has suggested that consumers are aware of institutional information privacy issues such as being profiled for targeted advertising. However, they view these mere annoyances, and of a secondary concern behind issues of social privacy. This lack of appreciation for the significance of the collection and use of their information by government and firms has important implications for social marketing, and for education that encourages behavioural change in consumers’ disclosure management.


Continuing research in this area will serve to help inform the future formulation of appropriate public policy responses to social networking privacy issues; and guide the development of social networking environments and policies to encourage consumers to engage in appropriate privacy and disclosure strategies.


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