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Data & Surveillance Archive

The signature of security

Big data, anticipation, surveillance
by / RP 191 (May/Jun 2015) / Commentary, Data & Surveillance

‘We are not crystal ball gazers. We are Intelligence Agencies’, noted the former GCHQ director Iain Lobban in a public inquiry on privacy and security by the Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament (ISC) in the wake of the Snowden revelations about mass surveillance. [1] Several minutes later, Lobban …


Big data, small freedom?

Informational surveillance and the political
by / RP 191 (May/Jun 2015) / Commentary, Data & Surveillance

In 2010, ‘big data’ was described as ‘datasets that could not be captured, managed and processed by general computers within an acceptable scope’. [1] Today’s definitions boil down to three Vs: Variety, Volume and Velocity. Big data deals with mostly unstructured, heterogeneous and non-validated data, whose size is so big that …


Oceanic enemy

A brief philosophical history of the NSA
by / RP 191 (May/Jun 2015) / Commentary, Data & Surveillance

6 July 1962, NAVFAC base, Barbados.

A grey building stands at the foot of a stone lighthouse overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Inside, a military serviceman is examining the lines being recorded on an enormous roll of paper by the stylus of a sort of gigantic electrocardiogram. We are in one of the secret bases of …