Governments, private companies, NGOs and everyday citizens have all increasingly come to associate both physical safety and information security online with practices of surveillance. Consequently, safety in the public sphere and the securitization of sensitive information in the private sphere have both become an enduring moral concern. The moral value of physical safety in the UK has in fact been connected with surveillance since the early days of CCTV, with arguments concerning the role of visibility as a vector of security frequently used to justify the expansion of public-area video recording. This same discourse now accompanies the advent of popular mobile apps used to enable geo-monitoring, messaging, and other functionalities that allow the user to be surveilled in real time by people that they trust. Following revelations on the extent to which commercial companies and state authorities regularly harvest data and surveil users, the protection of personal data online has also become in recent years an important topic of public debate. It focuses on new practices of surveillance that come to the fore as social interactions and economic transactions increasingly depend on the functioning of digital cloud services. The emergent construction of decentralized business models that allow cloud service users to surveil other users in real time have arguably taken this debate into uncharted legal and moral territories. Taking place in London, this study focuses on individuals, companies and communities concerned with physical safety, information security and practices of monitoring in a wide range of online ecosystems, including clouds, shared online working spaces, blockchains and safety apps on mobile phones.
About the Anthropologist
Dr Matan Shapiro is a Research Associate in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London.
Matan Shapiro is a Social Anthropologist (2013, UCL). His ethnographic research projects to date mainly focused on Israeli, Brazilian and Norwegian societies. His theoretical interests span across cosmology, religiosity and ritual; play, paradox and alterity; social dynamics; and – finally – risk, broadly defined. He is currently interested in surveillance, morality and the emergent construction of post-political crowds in mega-cities.
Read Matan’s publications on his Academia.edu page here.