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Understanding techno-security: On pre-emption, situational awareness and technological superiority 
Convenors:
Jutta Weber (University Paderborn)
Katrin M. Kämpf (University of Paderborn)
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Theme:
Security and surveillance
Format:
Location:
Economy 22a
Sessions:
Thursday 18 September, 15:00-16:45, 17:00-18:45, Friday 19 September, 10:30-12:15 (UTC+0)

Long Abstract

Security has been described as today’s ontotheology: We are afraid of orphaned suitcases, ‘suspicious’ people on our airplane, or being robbed on the way home.

In the course of broad political, socioeconomic, and technological changes, security has gained a central place in Western societies which are preoccupied with their future(s). Risk discourses are increasingly enlarged adding more awareness to probable resources of risk. They do not only address health, natural, and technological disasters, but terrorism, organized crime and illegalized immigration.

While security was traditionally achieved primarily via the empirical identification and assessment of threats framed by a causal logic, it is now reconfigured in the logic of predictive maximum techno-security. The shift of security from a proactive to a preventive mode in which every thinkable event is imagined in order to preempt or pre-mediate it, coincides with a desire for technological superiority and situational awareness, bearing affinities with the contemporary military logic of security. Mapping our world as completely as possible seems to be characteristic of a new culture of techno-security, as all kinds of information are crowd sourced and proliferated.

The track aims at discussing the security-technology nexus, the role of precautionary risk management, the desire for a near monopoly of space and information, and the relation of civil and military security.

The papers will be presented in the order shown and grouped 4-3-4 between sessions

Accepted papers:

Author:

Jutta Weber (University Paderborn)

Paper long abstract:

Contemporary network centric warfare relies on 'precision' weaponry, signal intelligence and uninhabited, modular, globally connected robot systems. This latest type of warfare seems to be driven by a desire for technological superiority, situational awareness and the monopoly of space and information. The most prominent technology - the icon of the 'system of systems' - is the combat drone or uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAVs). It provides a global precision strike capability which might allow for attacks with conventional unmanned weapons anywhere in the world within an hour - given the necessary numbers of drone bases.

Interestingly, most of the US-American drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen have been based on the (civil) National Security Agency's (NSA) signal intelligence to identify and track targets. While at the same time, drones are increasingly used for homeland and police security.

In my paper, I will discuss possible parallels in the epistemology, ontology and imaginary of military and civil techno security with a special focus on the politics of drones.

Author:

Darren Ellis (University of East London)

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I will be discussing my work on the affective impacts of living in a surveillance society. I am particularly concerned with the notion that the more pervasive surveillance becomes, the more it seems to be being rendered unconscious. For example, its ubiquity has given way to its normalisation, yet it is also increasingly complex and clandestine. I will be presenting qualitative interview data to look at ways in which surveillance is negotiated in everyday life. For example, one of the major responses I found was the sense that there is very little that can do done to avoid it, it is increasingly difficult to comprehend its complexity and magnitude, so concern about it is quite futile. Therefore one of the responses this has given way to is a form of apatheia, a way of psycho-culturally managing associated anxiety.

Author:

Magdalena Freudenschuss (Leuphana Universität Lüneburg)

Paper long abstract:

Digital technology is central to the security architecture of (not only) Western states. Controlling the political opponent, be they politicians, illegalized migrants or political activists, through digital technology stays in line with the military logic of the internet's first steps. Security and control range at the top level of nearly every political agenda - control even seems to overlap all understandings of the political.

At the same time, digital technology restructures political activism. It enlarges their repertoire of action. Anyhow, to make use of the digital also means to expose oneself to new forms of control. Often, political activism's individual as much as collective security is challenged by measures of security taken by those they confront. Digital security seems to be a key answer to these changing conditions of activism in a digitized world.

So it's all about security regimes? The proposed paper is questioning the notion of security as a critical tool for understanding the dynamics between activism and control. Drawing on interviews with political activists the argument evolves along the concept of vulnerability. Resorting especially to feminist theory the paper aims at re-reading what politics mean in digitized societies. Applying the lens of vulnerability reminds us that politics are not to be reduced to security, and it challenges thinking beyond the dichotomy of military and civil. The mapping of vulnerabilities within and through the digital opens up a critical perspective on a hegemonic logic encompassed as much by states as by activists.

Authors:

Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda (University of Klagenfurt)
Andreas Poller (Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology)
Sven Türpe (Fraunhofer SIT)
Laura Kocksch (Ruhr-University Bochum)

Paper long abstract:

Most IT security modeling techniques suggest that defining security requirements of a future system means to collect assets and associated threats, to assign risks to the potential threats and finally to model a system in which these risks are mitigated. This approach reflects the traditional objective of information security to protect bounded military or business organizations from the adverse outside world. However, current understandings of organizations as complex networks of human and nonhuman actors (Latour) make defining the boundary of an organization difficult. In addition, rather than with risks, i.e. well-identified dangers associated with describable events, we are often dealing with situations of uncertainty in which we are incapable of establishing the necessary 'list of possible worlds' (Callon). In this paper we show that security requirement definition is a discursive process of negotiation and decision-taking involving multiple, often contradictory perspectives and unforeseeable complications. We show results from an interdisciplinary project (cultural anthropology and computer science) employing ethnographic interviews and observation. With a heterogeneous team of scientists, archivists and IT-professionals we collaboratively defined security requirements of a future remote access to sensitive social science research data. We attempted adapting traditional security modeling techniques in order to turn resulting models into usable boundary objects required to bridge the differences in viewpoints and understanding (Star/Griesemer). We suggest that security modeling approaches only succeed if they assist actors in expressing their viewpoints and support processes of negotiation, thus ensuring that actors can address complex and uncertain issues, and if they allow for the idea of organizations as co-produced by humans and artefacts.

Author:

David Skinner (Anglia Ruskin University)

Paper long abstract:

Significant scientific, governmental, and socio-technical developments are destabilising existing constellations of knowledge and understanding of race, ethnicity and racism. The aspect of this shift that receives the most attention is the way that the new life sciences have reinvigorated the biopolitics of identity and difference. But to appreciate fully what is happening to the 'race' object, we need to consider the inseparability of the corporal and the digital in contemporary projects to know and govern bodies.

This paper explores the consequences of what Peter Chow White terms 'the informationalization of race' - the processes by which the digital realm is an increasingly important arena for the construction of human differences. In particular it focuses on how racialization (in both senses of classification and discrimination) takes place through systems of data collection, storage and management. It develops three case studies of new security technologies: criminal forensic databases; biometric borders; and the application of data analytics to policing. In these cases we see the emergence of ways of working on 'race' (e.g. profiling, prediction and monitoring) that are discriminatory but, because they are coded in other terms and/or they are embedded in automatic algorithms and everyday techniques, are not easily accessible to conventional forms of anti-racist critique. These cases show how in the contemporary setting 'race' objects are bio-social-data hybrids that depend on their mutability and overt contingency to operate across institutional boundaries and locations.

Author:

Sebastian Volkmann (University of Freiburg)

Paper long abstract:

Especially since the 9/11 attacks, travelling by airliner means to be subject to ever more intensive security procedures. In order to be able to prevent more and more threats, a change in the paradigm of passenger screening has been promoted by various actors in the aviation sector: IATA, for example, suggested a "checkpoint of the future" that more efficiently and less intrusively screens "different passengers in different ways" based on risk assessment; the US TSA has introduced passenger differentiation and pre-screening programs; and in aviation security research, "risk based screening" (RBS) has become a hot research topic. Although it is often unclear what is specifically meant by RBS, it is generally supposed to allow targeted passenger screening based on "predictive" risk data.

In my paper, I differentiate three variants of RBS and distinguish three types of goals that actors in the aviation sector hope to achieve with it. However, I argue that RBS cannot, all at the same time, provide an extra layer of security, provide less intrusive screening for so-called bona fide passengers and be more cost effective. This means it is subject to various trade-offs. Based on a framework for the assessment of the ethical and societal impact of airport checkpoint screening, which has been developed as part of the FP7 project XP-DITE, I identify recurrent and newly introduced ethical risks that some variants of this new paradigm of asymmetric screening imply, such as less accountability due to an increased dependency on intelligence activities targeting passengers.

Authors:

Olga Kudina (University of Twente)
François Thoreau (University of Liege)
Jérémy Grosman (Research Center for Information Law and Society)

Paper long abstract:

Modern-day security systems undergo reconceptualization based on borders' dematerialization towards more circulating and open fences (Razac, 2013). Belgian penitentiary system falls into the trend, modernizing its prisons visually and technologically to make them fit for suburbanites' acceptability upon relocation to peripheral business activity zones (Thoreau et el., 2014). Prison's perimeter will now be secured by virtual fences, - technology combining video cameras, thermal/audio sensors, and radars. The system recognizes as dangerous any subject that falls out of normal behavior patterns. Thus, invisible to human eye, virtual fences act as surveillance agents to whom people delegated their functions, creating more impenetrable barriers and redefining the space far beyond prisons. The article will explore ethical implications for general public from implementing such technologies, building on the scholarship of Actor-Network theory (Latour, Woolgar, 1979) and the management of permeability concept (Razac). The hypothesis is that virtual fences are political, shaping behavior standards according to prison's security goals and hampering freedoms of individuals who get into prison's surveillance zone. The hypothesis will be challenged against opening technical and social black-boxes of virtual fences, discovering what their technological architecture reflexes, how the algorithms of normal behavior are defined and incorporated and how public perceives such innovation. We will utilize quantitative and qualitative research methods to analyze empirical evidence from interviews, on-line surveys and personal involvement as junior researchers in the EU project on virtual fences development. Following Beijker (2009), to facilitate public participation in scientific debates, interview audience will include both experts and lay persons.

Author:

Bilel Benbouzid (University of East Paris)

Paper long abstract:

In the last ten years in North America and England, predicting the probability of a future crime in space and time has become an important program of research and experiments that local managers of the police labeled "Predictive Policing". Behind this label, often associated to movie science fiction in the media, there are criminologists, mathematicians and computer scientists who seek to use simulation and tools of artificial intelligence to test theories of the "science of crime". The key concept on which this project is based is "repeat victimization" which refers to the idea that a first victimization is the best way to predict future victimization. In this presentation, I will focus on the origins of this axiom to open the black box of one of these algorithms that can anticipate victimization (especially burglary). On the internalist perspective, we observe controversies on the causes of crime, statistical models and prediction algorithms. From an external point of view, we see the old issue (1970) of a difficult reform of the police system and groups of scientists more or less allied to the police infrastructure. The main traget of this presentation is to show the political rafimication of algoritmic policing.

Author:

Felix Schirmann

Paper long abstract:

Modern neuroscientific technologies allow for unprecedented access to offenders' bodies and brains. Brain imaging evidence features in court cases, studies on the neuroprediction of rearrest appear in distinguished scientific journals, and biomarkers for criminality putatively offer a scientific basis for crime prevention. Proponents of these developments suggest that technological means are (or will be) superior to established means of identifying offenders or recidivists. Moreover, they argue that the application and advancement of neuroscientific technology can aid in reducing crime and thus increasing safety in society at large. The underlying theories suggest susceptibility for crime rather than asserting that biology is destiny. Accordingly, modern bio-criminology makes use of elaborate statistical models, rendering individuals' dangerousness as probabilistic. The strategy to gather data, apply technology, and map susceptibility indicates a logic of risk management and an ideology of technological security. In this talk, I will analyze bio-criminologists' endeavor to research and control crime through technology in historical and contemporary perspective. Since the late nineteenth century a shift from deterministic biological theories of crime to modern probabilistic understandings occurred. This shift was accompanied by a change in policing criminals, from cases of eugenics and sterilization in the past to assessing neurobiological risk factors in the present. Technological diversification was an important driver of this transition. Against this historical backdrop, I will argue that current bio-criminology capitalizes on the perceived persuasiveness of modern neuroscience. Then, I will take a stance against the idea that neuroscientific technology is fit to prevent crime or improve security.

Author:

Katrin M. Kämpf (University of Paderborn)

Paper long abstract:

One eminent fear of western societies besides terrorism or illegalized migration concerns pedophilia. For example, British government officials claim that the publication of classified materials leaked by Edward Snowden might have enabled pedophiles to escape detection. Their German colleagues demand large scale data-retention possibilities also to monitor pedophiles while the Bavarian teacher's association suggested that potential future teachers should undergo a medical pedophilia screenings.

Dominant discourses on pedophilia concentrate on predictive and pre-emptive measures, risk assessment and management, and—within the medical community—on the correct diagnosis of the paraphilia, as a correct diagnosis is considered paramount for risk assessment and treatment of sex offenders.

While earlier diagnostics of pedophilia predominantly consisted of clinical/psychiatric interviews, today's diagnostic tools include a range of technological procedures such as phallometry, MRI, choice reaction time measuring and more recently actuarial approaches. While many of these instruments are currently mostly used in attempts to assess risks of recidivism in convicted sex offenders, recently there has been a growing demand in popular discourse to use these or similar tools to pre-emptively screen all sorts of people who work with children.

I will introduce some of these tools and analyze whether and in how far these tools as well as the growing demand for large scale screening function are part of the logic of predictive maximum security and characteristic for techno-security culture.

Author:

Kevin Hall (Goethe University FrankfurtMain)

Paper long abstract:

Nearly 20 years ago David Armstrong (1995) observed "The rise of surveillance medicine". With the outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1, SARS, pandemic influenza H1N1, MERS-CoV and most recently the outbreaks of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Guinea the development of surveillance medicine has gained considerable momentum. National systems of health surveillance increasingly experiment with various forms of syndromic surveillance and combine them with classic public health data to yield early warning systems for infectious disease outbreaks. In the process of visualising outbreaks these systems partake in the construction of e.g. a pandemic threat and claim the authority to speak for this threat.

During the influenza pandemic 2009 German public health authorities complained that the population was failing to perceive the pandemic threat. This problematization is the starting point for my analysis of the German influenza surveillance system. The Robert Koch-Institute as the national agency responsible for infectious disease prevention together with the German Green Cross have developed the once rather passive influenza surveillance system in Germany into an actively operating and expanding sentinel surveillance network consisting of general practitioners, hospitals and even individuals registered on a website. In my paper I discuss how harmonisation, standardisation and multiple translations and transformations are employed in aggregating data from such disparate sources and visualising the influenza activity in Germany. Drawing on the visibility regime concept from surveillance studies and STS I analyse how the threat of influenza is made visible and used in the construction of a risk identity of the population.