Big data, security, surveillance, and theorising the future internet


Technology defines contemporary societies. Yet, the role of digital frontier technologies and how they shape our future—in particular, crime and offending—is little understood and even less theorised. Criminology is not an exception to this rule. As Hayward and Maas (2020: 2) note, for too long *[n]ot only |didj most criminologists ignore matters relating to technology itself, but ... have shown a studied disregard of theories from other disciplines that have sought to open a space for dialogue between social sciences and information and communication technology’. Criminological gaze during the Fourth Industrial Revolution mostly focused on cyber-crime, hacking, surveillance, and digital fraud (Leman-Langlois, 2008; McGuire, 2012; Goodman, 2016; Powell et al., 2018).

This chapter outlines the central conceptual concerns and approaches adopted by this volume. The chapter first examines phenomena that are the precondition and/or the outcome of the application of DFTs in the future Internet, such as big data, surveillance, security, and privacy. Outlining and analysing these themes are essential if we wish to look at the impact of the loT, blockchain, or autonomous mobile robots on future crimes, victimisation, and social control. To understand the role and impact of the loT, for example, we first need to investigate the extent and types of surveillance this technology generates, and what this means for the privacy of users/consumers and those who decide (or manage) to ignore the temptation of smart things. The chapter also offers a review of relevant literature in criminology, surveillance studies, STS, and other social science and humanities disciplines vis-à-vis big data, surveillance, security, and privacy.

In the second part of the chapter, I outline theoretical approaches used in analysing and forecasting crime and punishment in the future Internet, in particular Actor-Network Theory (ANT), ubiquitous surveillance, technological unconscious, pre-emption and pre-crime, and predictive policing and automated justice. Rather than outlining them in-depth, the chapter will provide a brief introduction to the selected theoretical approaches as they will be discussed in greater detail throughout the book.

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