School of Sociology and Social Policy

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PRISM, identity and control through data

I recently wrote an article which will be published in the journal Thesis Eleven in October, in this paper I presented an argument about the ways in which certain aspects of digital culture are affecting identity and trust among other issues. One particular aspect which I focused on was some of the changes in the way surveillance is conducted through the accumulation, extraction and analysis of data on individuals and groups. One of my central claims was that surveillance for the purposes of national security and criminal justice is conducted in similar ways to the monitoring of consumers. The collation of “metadata” derived from online searches, connections on social networks or through mobile phone networks and websites. The time span of academic publishing is such that it is rarely possible to be completely up-to-date but the recent revelations of the practices of GCHQ and NSA in conjunction with internet companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Facebook mean that my article already looks out of date for not addressing these events. The controversy does, however, provide a good opportunity to elaborate on some of the analytical points I made in the article and explore them in some more detail. Continue reading

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