chapter  8
20 Pages

Seeing like Big Tech

Security assemblages, technology, and the future of state bureaucracy
WithFélix Tréguer

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This chapter looks at post-Snowden contention between US technology companies – firms like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple – and the security field to reflect on the evolution of state arrangements monitoring and controlling communications. Modern statecraft has always depended on measures and metrics that could make the world legible and governable. In the age of Big Data, the infrastructures, data-processing techniques and abstractions produced by large, public-facing technology firms are now seen as the most suited to govern the digitalised world. Through negotiations processes and power struggles involving states, technology companies and other actors, security assemblages tasked with surveillance and censorship evolve towards privatisation and automation, and away from the rule of law. While pointing to the growing influence of Big Data governmentality across the security and wider bureaucratic fields, we conclude by taking stock of the failures of strategies aimed at decoupling the growing sophistication of computing and the intensification of power relationships.