The definitive buzzword of the internet age, ‘data’ comes with much baggage. Laws and regulation reckoning with data are being crafted first and foremost to ensure data protection. However, much more is at stake when it comes to data: governance by data raises questions of discrimination; mass surveillance by the State is fundamentally altering democracy; ‘data-driven’ decision making has been revealed to flatten cultural eccentricities and diversity. Moreover, while data is generally conceptualised and treated as a disembodied resource, in practice it has strongly embodied effects for our autonomy, dignity and even bodily integrity. We explore this range of issues in this section.
Surveillance is frequently understood as aiming to monitor people’s past or present behaviour. But it also intends to shape our behaviour going forward. And of both dimensions, women and sexual and gender minorities are only too aware: they have always been under stringent surveillance — by actors ranging from partners and parents to the state — and this has shaped, and harmed, their lives in multiple ways. What can a gender perspective on both these dimensions of surveillance, then, teach us about the multiple harms of surveillance? And how can this understanding in turn strengthen our efforts to fight surveillance’s multiple harms? Our work on gender and surveillance provides insight into these questions and more.
Privacy and data protection have been the most popular responses – in law and regulation as well as in popular understanding – to issues of surveillance and dataveillance. In this section, we investigate the substance of these frameworks, their contours and limitations as well as their usefulness.