What are the advantages and disadvantages of such definitions? A critical contribution to Internet surveillance studies

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2 1. INTRODUCTION Surveillance has notably increased in the last decades of modern society. Surveillance studies scholars like David Lyon (1994) or Clive Norris and Gary Armstrong (1999) stress that we live in a surveillance society. Although there are a lot of other features in contemporary society such as information, neoliberalism, globalization, capital, etc., surveillance in general and Internet surveillance in particular are crucial phenomena. In order to get a first impression of (Internet) surveillance, some illustrative examples can be given: According to the American Management Association and the epolicy Institute (2008) that undertake an annual quantitative survey about electronic monitoring and surveillance with approximately 300 U.S. companies, more than one fourth of employers have fired workers for misusing and nearly one third have fired employees for misusing the Internet. More than 40% of the companies monitor e- mail traffic of their workers, and 66% of corporations monitor Internet connections. In addition, most companies use software to block non-work related websites such as sexual or pornographic sites, game sites, social networking sites, entertainment sites, shopping sites, and sport sites. The American Management Association and the epolicy Institute (2008) also stress that companies tracking content, keystrokes, and time spent at the keyboard... store and review computer files... monitor the blogosphere to see what is being written about the company, and... monitor social networking sites. In addition, the New Yorker risk consulting company Kroll undertakes off- and online pre-employment screening on a large-scale level. Kroll offers background screening services of new job applicants for companies and government agencies in order to check information such as address histories, education and employment histories, media coverage, credit reports, civil and bankruptcy records, criminal records, driving histories, liens and judgment histories, and professional licenses and certifications (Kroll 2010). If Kroll realizes a company s application procedure, the job candidates have to fill out a detailed questionnaire on the Internet as part of their application, which is sent invisibly to Kroll (Searle 2006, 343). Kroll has pioneered a secure Internet-based system that collects information from job candidates and provides clients with project updates and final reports. Kroll s Applicant Submission System allows job candidates to fill out a detailed questionnaire online 11

3 and submit it securely to Kroll. (Kroll 2010) In order to investigate job candidates, Kroll searches primary sources (including electronic resources), visits courthouses throughout the country to retrieve and review public documents, and conducts telephone interviews with a job candidate s professional and personal references (Kroll 2010). Since 1996, the web information company Alexa Internet (a subsidiary company of Amazon) has been publishing web traffic reports, global rankings, and top sites lists by country and category of those users who have downloaded (over 10 million) and installed the Alexa toolbar into their browser. Alexa Internet gathers detailed data and offers site info in order to analyse a particular website or to compare different websites. These instruments are essential for advertisers in order to know how popular certain sites are and to make online advertising more effective and efficient. For instance, the popular pornographic video sharing website Porn Hub has been monitored by Alexa Internet since 2008 and is currently the 54th most visited website on the Internet. The Alexa traffic rank indicates how popular the site is including reach, pageviews, pageviews/user, bounce (percentage of visits to the website that consist of a single page turn), time on site, and search. The audience data show what kind of users are on the website and lists visitors by country: 29.6% of Porn Hub visitors are located in the United States, 5.3% in the United Kingdom, 4.6% in France and Germany, and 4.1% in India. Also interesting is that the clickstream sub-section shows which sites users visited immediately before and after pornhub.com: 6.56% of the users visited google.com, 5.27% partypoker.com, 5.24% livejasmin.com, 3.58% pornhublive.com, and 3.55% facebook.com before the Porn Hub website. 7.58% of the users visited partypoker.com, 6.53% livejasmin.com, 5.18% pornhublive.com, 4.86% streamate.com, and 4.19% google.com after the Porn Hub website. The overall aim of Towards a Critical Theory of Surveillance in Informational Capitalism is to clarify how we can theorize and systemize such phenomena. Surveillance studies scholars like Lyon (1994, ; 2001, 40-44) accentuate that economic surveillance such as monitoring consumers or the workplace are central aspects of surveillance societies. The approach that is advanced in this work recognizes the importance of the role of the economy in contemporary surveillance societies. For doing so, the following thematically grouped research questions are the subject of this work: 12

4 Foundations of surveillance theory How is surveillance defined in the existing literature? What are commonalties and differences of various theories of surveillance? What are the advantages and disadvantages of such definitions? A critical contribution to surveillance studies Which theory can be used to create a typology in order to systemize surveillance in the modern economy? What are characteristics of surveillance in the spheres of production, circulation, and consumption? What are differences between surveillance and Internet surveillance? Foundations of Internet surveillance theory How is Internet surveillance defined in the existing literature? What are commonalties and differences of various theories of Internet surveillance? What are the advantages and disadvantages of such definitions? A critical contribution to Internet surveillance studies Which theory can be used to create a typology in order to systemize Internet surveillance in the modern economy? What are characteristics of Internet surveillance in the spheres of production, circulation, and consumption? This book can be fruitful for scholars who want to undertake a systematic analysis of surveillance in general and Internet surveillance in particular in the modern economy and who want to study the field of surveillance critically. Towards a Critical Theory of Surveillance in Informational Capitalism treats aspects of surveillance in informational capitalism (Castells 2000; Fuchs 2008). This work is understood as a critical contribution to surveillance studies insofar as it is based on the foundations of a critical political economy approach (MECW 28; MEW 23). According to The Oxford Dictionary of English, the term surveillance originated from the French sur- over + 13

5 veiller watch and from the Latin vigilare keep watch in the early 19th century (Soanes and Stevenson 2005). This book constructs theoretically founded typologies in order to systemize the existing literature of surveillance studies and to analyse examples of surveillance. Therefore, it mainly is a theoretical approach combined with illustrative examples, advancing from the abstract to the concrete level. Based on the research questions and the described methodology, the following general and detailed structure can be outlined: Foundations of surveillance theory are analysed in the second chapter, a critical contribution to the analysis of surveillance in the modern economy is treated in the third chapter, foundations of Internet surveillance theory are studied in the fourth chapter, a critical contribution to the analysis of Internet surveillance in the modern economy is drawn in the fifth chapter, and a conclusion is given in the sixth chapter. Chapter two analyses how surveillance is defined in the existing literature, what the different notions of surveillance have in common and what distinguishes them from one another, and what advantages and disadvantages such definitions have. In addition, chapter two elucidates how different notions treat economic aspects of surveillance and clarifies if there is a gap in the existing literature in order to study surveillance in the modern economy. The specific economic mode of surveillance is studied in chapter three. Based on the foundations of a political economy approach, the distinction of production, circulation, and consumption within the economy is introduced in order to establish a typology of surveillance in the economy and to study surveillance in the spheres of production, circulation, and consumption. Constructing a theoretically founded typology of economic surveillance is important in order to undertake a systematic analysis of surveillance in the modern economy. That chapter concludes with a discussion of the emergence of the Internet as new surveillance technology. Chapter four analyses how Internet surveillance is defined in the existing literature, what commonalties and differences of various notions of online surveillance exist, and what advantages and disadvantages such definitions have. Furthermore, chapter four describes how different notions deal with economic surveillance on the Internet and makes clear if there is a gap in the existing literature in order to study In- 14

6 ternet surveillance in the modern economy. The specific economic mode of Internet surveillance is studied in chapter five. Based on the distinction of surveillance in the economy into the spheres of production, circulation, and consumption from chapter three, a typology of online surveillance in the economy can be constructed. Economic surveillance on the Internet in the spheres of production, circulation, and consumption will be outlined. Chapter six concludes with a summary and makes some political recommendations in order to overcome (Internet) surveillance in the modern economy. 15

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