Centers of Concatenation: Fusing Data in Post-9/11 Security Organizations
26 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2011
Date Written: August 20, 2011
In this paper, we draw upon empirical research on fusion centers to theorize contemporary state surveillance. Instead of viewing fusion centers as central repositories for the stockpiling and sharing of personal data, we introduce the concept of “centers of concatenation” to describe the ways in which disparate data are drawn together as needed, invested with meaning, communicated to others, and then discarded such that no records exist of such surveillance activities. In these ways, fusion centers perform an erasure, or a selective non-generation, of data about their own practices, thereby creating zones of opacity that shield them from accountability. This is concerning particularly because fusion centers are rapidly becoming primary portals for law-enforcement investigations and the model for information sharing by security agencies more broadly.
Keywords: data sharing, fusion centers, civil liberties, privacy, surveillance
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