Panel: Sniff, Scrape, Crawl: Part 1
In dystopian debates on digital privacy, it is suggested that privacy can only be protected if we hide our personal information or practice control over it. Underlying this important political and technological turn is the fact that “my data = i”. Following this line of thought, computer scientists, companies and other dedicated persons from civil society have proposed a number of tools to unlink or manage the relationship between the “i” and the data bodies that individuals leave behind. These can be categorized under the title “anonymity tools” or “identity management” tools. If used correctly, the former guarantees to some degree the anonymity of users traces, while the latter provides the individual with “control” over traces left behind. We are not new to anonymous traces and the attempts to control what we leave behind. “Anonymous”, for example, is also a term used to refer to works without authorship or of unknown origin. A popular form of anonymous works are folk songs. They are melodies that travel, which get a new life blown into them every time they move in time or space. Interestingly enough, the lack of authorship and origin invokes questions of authenticity and evidence, as it is shown in the film “Whose is this song?” from Adela Peeva. This also becomes evident in the film “I Love Alaska” where the query poetry of an “anonymized user” becomes the script of a film at the edge of fiction and non-fiction. Anonymous has also been revived recently as the label of a digital anarchist movement, questioning the boundaries between the physical and digital. In my paper I will look at the strengths and weaknesses of anonymity in each case, both as a technology as well as a strategy. I will also delve into its relationship to control, meaning how it evades and replaces different forms of control.
- Seda Guerses is a researcher working in the group COSIC/ESAT at the Department of Electrical Engineering in K. U. Leuven, Belgium. Her topics of interest include privacy technologies, participatory design, feminist critique of computer science, and online social networks. She has a keen interest in the subject of anonymity in technical as well as cultural contexts, the spectrum being anywhere between anonymous communications and anonymous folk songs. Beyond her academic work, she also collaborates with artistic initiatives including Constant vzw, Bootlab, De-center, ESC in Brussels, Graz and Berlin. You can find more information about her dwellings here: esat.kuleuven.be/~sguerses vous-etes-ici.net
Full text (PDF) p. 1090-1092