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Networked Privacy

In July–August 2017, I was invited to be Guest Professor to teach a two-week intensive summer school programme entitled ‘Digital Living’ at Aarhus University. These are some notes and resources from my seminars, lectures, and workshops on Networked Privacy. Please feel free to use with credits back to this page.


Networked Privacy & Surveillance: hiding, shielding, sharing

Is privacy disappearing, or are we reconfiguring the concept to suit the way we think about our actions in increasingly public digital spheres? How does surveillance fit into this discussion, whether it is from outside forces or inside motivations, including self-surveillance, self-quantification, geolocation, and corporate and state surveillance? In this week’s class, we will focus on privacy on the level of platforms, structures, and institutions. We’ll also talk about the degree to which sharing and surveillance overlap, online.


Lecture guide:

1) Class discussion on what “privacy” and “surveillance” constitutes and how it is interpreted in this specific cultural, social, institutional, and structural context.

2) Discuss “privacy” in opposition and relation to “publicness” through the concept of “three types of publics” by Michael Warner (2002) in ”Publics and Counter publics.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 88(4): 413-425.

3) Provide brief overview of the history and impact of the “panopticon”. Use notes from Jeremy Bentham (late 18th century)

3) Discuss “surveillance” from the perspective of users, service providers, platforms, and the state through the framework of “three kinds of surveillance” by Lee Humphreys (2013) in “Mobile social networks and surveillance: Users’ perspectives.” Pp. 109-126 in Media, surveillance, and identity: A social perspective, edited by A. Jansson and M. Christensen. New York: Peter Lang.

4) Provide counterpoint by discussing the benefits of publicness and the sharing industry Use Jeff Jarvis’ (2011) Public Parts: How sharing in the digital age improves the way we work and live. Simon & Schuster.

5) Discuss the Human Rights perspective and moral/ethical dilemmas in protecting privacy. Reference “the right to be forgotten” from the European Commission (2014)

6) Provide material for follow-up discussions on platform regulation. Use “Regulation and social practice online” by Kennedy, Meese, van der Nagel (2016)

7) Brief introduction to user interventions and innovation around anti-surveillance movements. For example, camouflage from face detection by CV Dazzle (2016) 

8) Reference Tama Leaver’s work on infant surveillance technologies and infant wearables 


Workshop: Why should we care about privacy and surveillance?

We will watch a brief documentary about a form of surveillance on the internet. Do take some notes on the points discussed in the documentary. After this, we will break into groups of 5 to recap the main arguments and tensions presented in class thus far. Use the following guiding questions: What are the key arguments in the readings? What are some points of contention in the documentary? How do they relate to the concepts discussed in the lecture and the readings? Do any of these practices apply to your everyday life? How does privacy and surveillance play out in your society at the level of self-surveillance, self-quantification, geolocation, and corporate and state surveillance? Why should we be concerned with networked privacy and surveillance? Take brief notes in preparation for class sharing after the break.

Meet the Targeted Individual Community (Vice, 2017)


Compulsory readings

Papacharissi, Zizi & Patricia L. Gibson (2015), “Fifteen Minutes of Privacy: Privacy, Sociality, and Publicity on Social Network Sites From Privacy Online (Eds) S. Trepte and L. Reinecke.

Leaver, Tama (2015). Born Digital? Presence, Privacy, and Intimate Surveillance. In Hartley, John & W. Qu (Eds.), Re-Orientation: Translingual Transcultural Transmedia. Studies in narrative, language, identity, and knowledge (pp. 149–160). Shanghai: Fudan University Press.

Rettberg, Jill Walker (2016), “Quantified Selves Click for more options from Seeing Ourselves through Technology (Palgrave)


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