Late Modern Surveillance in Europe: Self-censorship in a Digital Asylum
In the last decennia, affective aspects and perception-based policies dominate global mobility control and digital surveillance measures. However, these practices are increasingly challenged by new user strategies, in particular in the daily use of connected phone devices. Following the critical surveillance studies tradition of qualitative data analyses, this paper explores how conflict refugees – associated with terrorism and organized crime by national migration and border control authorities – are increasingly circumventing mobile surveillance mechanisms within and even outside the virtual walls of Fortress Europe. Due to tech literacy and surveillance awareness, digital policing practices are increasingly challenged by ›smart‹ user incentives, altering the remotely governed interactions between newcomers and border control authorities. Most studies are focusing on the content and techniques of these countersurveillance activities, including data transmission and shared social media content. Yet, there is hardly any attention paid on the ›silences‹ and social filters that are instrumentally used to ensure safe travel and to protect social networks in digital proximity.
These data modifications can be traced by ethnographic studies that are able to interpret the situational understanding of self-censorship in daily practices of smart phone users migrants. Using multisited analysis of migrants surveillance, this research addresses countersurveillance incentives in the EU and how surveillance subjects as forced migrants from conflict countries use smartphone applications to prevent legal expulsion. By implementing the mobility paradigm in criminological studies, this project includes methodological techniques in which online and offline interactions are intertwined to fully trace spatial, social aspects of participants’ decision-making. The central question of this paper is: Based on the imaginaries of safe connectedness- , how can the different silencing methods of smart phone user refugees can be classified, that is also interpreted as digital self-censorship practices on the move?
Veronika Nagy is assistant professor in criminology at the Law Department at Utrecht University. Her main research interest includes surveillance, digital inequality with a focus on the connection between mobility and technology, criminalization and digital self-censorship.
Nagy, Veronika/Klára Kerezsi (2020) (eds.): A Critical Approach to Police Science: New Perspectives in Post-Transitional Policing Studies. The Hague: Eleven International Publishing.
Nagy, Veronika (2019): Crime Prevention, Migration Control and Surveillance Practices: Welfare Bureaucracy as Mobility Deterrent. London: Routledge.