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Smartphone security: The smartphone as a security device and the public/private production of security
Swedish Defence University, Department of Political Science and Law, Political Science Division.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9676-9193
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the smartphone as a security device through a comprehensive summary and four independent papers. The thesis starts from the observation that a central and yet underexplored characteristic of contemporary security politics is that the smartphone, as one especially important piece of consumer technology, is increasingly being transformed into a security device. Given the smartphone’s close connection to the human body and self, and the device’s dominant influence across societal domains, it is crucial to account for how the device operates in security settings and with what consequences. Combining an ‘analytics of security devices’ with the theoretical concepts of materialisation, co-production and inscription taken from Science and Technology Studies (STS), the thesis’ papers address the problem of how to understand the implications of the smartphone’s operation as a security device by providing background on the commercialisation of intelligence and surveillance (paper I), and by offering three different conceptualisations of the smartphone as a security device (papers II, III and IV). The papers also explore and illustrate these conceptualisations through empirical analyses of the smartphone’s role in the Black Lives Matter protests (paper II), the United Kingdom’s Covid-19 track and trace programme (paper III), and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky’s communication through selfie-videos (paper IV). These case studies examine three important security practices that are enabled by the smartphone – surveillance, resistance and communication – and therefore also highlight how the smartphone mediates relations between a multitude of security actors: states, tech companies, citizens, politicians and audiences. Through these studies, moreover, the thesis shows that the smartphone produces security by (re)locating the practice of security and the negotiation of competing security interests to the human body, and thus makes security dependent on consumerist behaviour. This is politically significant because it entails a redistribution of agency and authority in the security domain, both between humans and machines and between public and private sector actors, which challenges the limits of what a democratic politics can do and what it can mean. 

Abstract [sv]

Denna avhandling undersöker smarttelefonen som en säkerhetsapparat genom en kappa och fyra självständiga artiklar. Avhandlingen utgår ifrån att ett centralt men underutforskat kännetecken för samtida säkerhetspolitik är att smarttelefonen, som en särskilt viktig typ av konsumentteknologi, alltmer förvandlas till en säkerhetsapparat. Med tanke på smarttelefonens nära koppling till den mänskliga kroppen och jaget, samt apparatets dominerande inflytande över samhälleliga sfärer, så är det avgörande att redogöra för hur och med vilka konsekvenser enheten fungerar i säkerhetsdomänen. Genom att använda de teoretiska begreppen materialisering, samproduktion och inskription hämtade från Science and Technology Studies (STS), så behandlar avhandlingens artiklar problemet med hur man ska förstå implikationerna av smarttelefonens funktion som en säkerhetsapparat genom att ge en bakgrund till kommersialiseringen av underrättelse och övervakning (papper I), och genom att erbjuda tre olika konceptualiseringar av smarttelefonen som ett säkerhetsapparat (papper II, III och IV). Papperna utforskar och illustrerar även konceptualiseringarna genom empiriska analyser av smarttelefonens roll i Black Lives Matter-protesterna (papper II), Storbritanniens Covid-19 track and trace-program (papper III) och Zelenskys kommunikation genom selfie-videor (papper IV). Dessa tre fallstudier undersöker tre viktiga säkerhetspraktiker som möjliggörs av smarttelefonen – övervakning, motstånd och kommunikation – och belyser därmed också hur smarttelefonen förhandlar relationer mellan en mängd olika säkerhetsaktörer: stater, teknikföretag, medborgare, politiker och publiken. Genom dessa studier visar avhandlingen dessutom att smarttelefonen producerar säkerhet genom att (om)lokalisera säkerhetspraktiken och förhandlingen mellan konkurrerande säkerhetsintressen till människokroppen, och gör därmed säkerheten beroende av konsumentbeteende. Detta är politiskt betydelsefullt eftersom det innebär en omfördelning av agens och auktoritet inom säkerhetsdomänen, både mellan människor och maskiner och mellan offentliga och privata aktörer, vilket utmanar gränserna för vad en demokratisk politik kan göra och vad den kan innebära. 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Försvarshögskolan (FHS), 2023.
Series
Swedish Defence University Thesis Series, ISSN 2004-6871 ; 2
Keywords [en]
Smartphone, security devices, appropriation, public/private security, Critical Security Studies, Science and Technology Studies
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-11770ISBN: 978-91-88975-29-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-11770DiVA, id: diva2:1792370
Public defence
2023-09-20, Sverigesalen, Drottning Kristinas väg 37, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-08-30 Created: 2023-08-29 Last updated: 2024-01-08Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. After Cambridge Analytica: Rethinking Surveillance in the Age of (Com)Modification
Open this publication in new window or tab >>After Cambridge Analytica: Rethinking Surveillance in the Age of (Com)Modification
2022 (English)In: Problematising Intelligence Studies / [ed] Hager Ben Jaffel, Sebastian Larsson, London: Routledge, 2022Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This chapter looks at how the emergence of surveillance capitalism, and specifically the change in contemporary mass surveillance and intelligence where the practice of watching and identification of suspicious behaviour is supplemented by the practice of modification and identification of profitable behaviour, is (re)constituting neoliberal, surveilled subjectivity. It argues that this gravitational shift from watching to modification makes the subject more steered than disciplined, putting its agency at even greater risk. Moreover, it ventures that more than putting the subject's agency at greater risk, this move also reconfigures the very meaning of agency in the context of surveillance and intelligence, by impelling us to understand it in temporal terms, as the capacity to move freely in time, instead of in spatial terms, as a mere extension of privacy. Advancing the analysis, the chapter explores and compares the Snowden and Cambridge Analytica cases through the memoirs of the two whistleblowers, Edward Snowden and Christopher Wylie, showing how Snowden's subject is private and disciplined, whereas Wylie's appears to be more agentic and steered.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Routledge, 2022
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-11764 (URN)9781003205463 (ISBN)
Available from: 2023-08-28 Created: 2023-08-28 Last updated: 2023-10-11Bibliographically approved
2. Conceptualising the smartphone as a security device: appropriations of embodied connectivity at the Black Lives Matter protests
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conceptualising the smartphone as a security device: appropriations of embodied connectivity at the Black Lives Matter protests
2022 (English)In: Critical Studies on Security, ISSN 2162-4887, E-ISSN 2162-4909, Vol. 10, no 2, p. 70-84Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article contributes to our understanding of security devices by engaging with the distinctiveness of one particular and especially important device: the smartphone. Drawing from Barad’s understanding of posthumanist performativity and turning to the smartphone literature outside of security studies, it develops a conceptual account of the smartphone as a security device. The article suggests that the smartphone stands out from other comparable devices because humans have come to embody its connective features. Using the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 as an illustration, the article shows how the smartphone’s intra-action with users enable the crafting of new security practices through appropriations of embodied connectivity, especially when such appropriations are carried out on the streets. The police appropriated the smartphone to monitor social media activity and for geofencing, while the protesters appropriated it to obfuscate data and for livestreaming. By (re)locating the negotiation of competing security interests in the (extended) bodies of the protesters through the affordance of these practices, the smartphone contributed to the acceleration and intensification of a racialised spiral of surveillance and counter-surveillance.

Keywords
Smartphone, security devices, appropriation, protests, Black Lives Matter
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-11765 (URN)10.1080/21624887.2022.2128596 (DOI)
Available from: 2023-08-28 Created: 2023-08-28 Last updated: 2023-10-11Bibliographically approved
3. Covid-19 contact-tracing apps and the co-production of public/private security
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Covid-19 contact-tracing apps and the co-production of public/private security
2023 (English)In: Security Dialogue, ISSN 0967-0106, E-ISSN 1460-3640, Vol. 54, no 4, p. 436-454Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines how the smartphone contributes to the co-production of security through an analysis of Covid-19 contact-tracing apps. Building on existing research in security studies that mobilizes the science and technology concept of co-production the article proposes the notion of ‘appropriation’ as a concrete way of extending our understanding of the public/private co-production of security. Appropriation highlights how consumer technology may be repurposed for security and shows how private sector actors that own consumer technology not only influence, but actively condition the co-production of security. Bringing new, typically commercial, concerns to bear on security practices, appropriation also has the effect of complicating conventional understandings of the relationship between liberty and security. Focusing on the NHS Covid-19 app and its contentious relationship with Google/Apple’s framework for digital contact-tracing, the article demonstrates how the smartphone enables private sector actors to gain influence in the security domain. Google and Apple used their control over smartphone technology to compel the British health authorities to adopt a less effective but more privacy-preserving approach than they originally intended, and thus enforced a seemingly liberal response to an exceptional political situation

Keywords
Smartphones, Security Devices, Big Tech, Covid-19, Science and Technology, Digital contact-tracing
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-11768 (URN)10.1177/09670106231194919 (DOI)
Available from: 2023-08-29 Created: 2023-08-29 Last updated: 2023-10-11Bibliographically approved
4. Inscribing security: The case of Zelensky’s selfies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Inscribing security: The case of Zelensky’s selfies
2023 (English)In: Review of International Studies, ISSN 0260-2105, E-ISSN 1469-9044Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

‘Visual turn’ scholarship in International Relations (IR) acknowledges the importance of new information and communication technology for the production and circulation of images but lacks sustained engagement with the technologies themselves and how they interact with humans in the visual production of security. This article brings the visual turn into conversation with Science and Technology Studies (STS) and mobilises Latour and Woolgar’s notion of inscription to show how the production of visual artefacts and their security effects are conditioned by human/device interaction. It advances the argument that the representational force of a visual artefact is dependent not only on the content and quality of the artefact itself, but also on the specific human/device relations that condition its production. To illustrate this, the article theorises the smartphone as an inscription device and the selfie as an inscription practice and analyses the case of Zelensky’s selfie videos from the first few days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Selfies inscribe meaning to security issues by mobilising the photographic affordances of indexicality, composition, and reflection in unique ways. Specifically, they focus images on the communicative acts of their producers and play on the relationship between human and device to invoke feelings of immediacy, authenticity, and intimacy.

Keywords
inscription, Science and Technology Studies, selfies, visual turn, Zelensky
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-11761 (URN)10.1017/s0260210523000359 (DOI)
Available from: 2023-08-28 Created: 2023-08-28 Last updated: 2023-10-11

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