High-Tech Governance Through Big Data Surveillance: Tracing the Global Deployment of Mass Surveillance Infrastructures, 1995 to Present
38 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2017
Date Written: August 31, 2017
State powers and high technology industries have historically and symbiotically implemented new information and communication technologies (ICTs) to advance their operational goals. However, much of the scholarship and policy discourse studying such practices is limited to well-known mass surveillance revelations in advanced-industrialized Western democratic contexts. We present the first event-catalogued case-history analysis of 306 cases of mass surveillance systems that currently exist across 139 nation-states in the world system. Identifying the ‘known universe’ of these population-wide data infrastructures that shape the evolving relationships between citizens and state powers, this study pays particular attention to and fills an existing void in the contemporary study and understanding of mass surveillance practices by examining how population surveillance systems have diffused across the international system. By closely investigating cases of state-backed cross-sector surveillance collaborations, we address the following questions: What is the recent, global history of state-sanctioned mass surveillance systems deployment? Which stakeholders have most prominently expressed support for, benefited from, or opposed these systems, and why? What have been the comparative societal responses to the normalization of these systems in recent decades? Addressing these questions provides valuable traction for understanding how comparative contexts shape the way governance technologies unfold and spread, potentially in ways that re-enforce state powers’ interests and dominance over their citizens.
Keywords: mass surveillance, information infrastructure, big data, state power
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation