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Politicising Security at the Boundaries: Privacy in Surveillance and Cybersecurity.

1. Introduction

How much politics is there in security--and how much security in politics? This question is at the heart of the theoretical engagement with security politics. Holding a prominent position in the academic debate, securitisation theory deals with a type of security that is discursively tied to the highest possible political stakes, since it is about existential threats to the survival of the state and its society. Therefore, invoking security is a powerful mobiliser that can help legitimise extraordinary responses and undemocratic procedures. (1) In securitisation theory, security is therefore emptied of politics as security is put above politics.

On the other hand, many of the current security issues in the West are hardly about the outright survival of the state or society, but characterised by the risk of (wilful) disruption of modern life in open, liberal societies. Dealing with such risks empowers a range of specific government rationalities, like the permanent surveillance of populations or the precautionary arrests of suspects. (2) When engaging with the political handling of these issues, the research focus shifts to everyday security practices of less traditional security actors such as civil protection or police agencies. (3) Their management of security risks puts security below politics, into the realm of (technical) routine procedures.

Next to these two dynamics, there is a third, which is the focus of this article and the special issue it is part of: security issues that are politicised, meaning they are controversially debated in a public arena, without foregone conclusions as to how they are going to be handled. This facet has received decidedly less attention in the security political literature than the other two. (4) In this article, we ask: how can we make sense of the politicisation of security theoretically? How does the politicisation of security unfold and what/who is driving/resisting it? And, finally, how does politicisation affect the normative quality of security politics?

In the first part of the article, we engage with a theoretical body of literature on politicisation with the aim to enrich the existing securitisation debate. In order to locate and observe politicisation processes empirically, we suggest using the concept of 'boundary object' from Science and Technology Studies (STS). (5) Boundary objects are characterised by 'interpretive flexibility', as they operate as mediators in the coordination process between different communities of practice. If there is a boundary object, there is contestation. Therefore, if controversy, awareness/engagement, and the use of public arenas is a prerequisite trait of politicisation, as Hagmann et al. argue in their introduction to this issue, (6) then the existence of boundary objects is a necessary condition for the existence of a politicised security issue.

In a second part, we look at the concept of privacy, a key notion and main tool for resistance vis-a-vis security logics. By examining two issue areas (video surveillance and cybersecurity), we highlight different tactics through which the boundary object 'privacy' is mobilised to re-engage and politicise security. We show in the third part how the invocation of privacy offers an alternative viewpoint on security, one where the human (digital) body and a human centred notion of security is at the centre. The value of its integrity and the need for its protection is a weighty counter to the abstract and often absolute claims of 'more security' through technological means. We end the article with a few thoughts about the normative implications of studying politicisation processes in the security field.

2. Politicisation at the boundaries

Politicisation and desecuritisation (and their twin concepts depoliticisation and securitisation) share many assumptions, although they were developed in distinct fields and for distinct empirical and theoretical puzzles. At their core, both revolve around concepts of 'the political'; more precisely, around how an ideal of democratic deliberation stands in contrast to less desirable forms of politics. One form (securitisation) is dominated by the logic of urgency and the other (depoliticisation) by improving economic efficiency. Both engage with the repercussions of a subtraction of a pluralistic, legitimate and fair debate about policy issues from government. Subsequently, scholars have pondered how such a removal of proper politics from government could be prevented or reversed, in other words, how issues could be repoliticised or desecuritised.

Symptomatically for an understanding of ideal politics, Hansen writes:
Politics is about providing stability to social relations, at the same
time as it entails openness as to what kind of 'stable' solutions
should be provided. To politicize something is thus to do two things:
to claim that this is of significance for the society in question and
to make it the subject of debate and contestation. (7)


The normative unease of many analysts originates from how security, with the sense of urgency that it implies, as well as neoliberalism and its imperative of profit accumulation, are deeply transformative of liberal democratic ideals of deliberation and related slowness. Both favour discursive TINA ('there is no alternative') constructions and thereby foreclose contestation and open-ended debates. (8) The question thus becomes, as Aradau frames it, 'do we want politics of exceptional measures or do we want democratic politics of slow procedures which can be contested?' (9) The answer from both sets of literature is clear-cut: There is a (normative) commitment to 'normal politics' and the democratic responsibility and accountability that come with it.

In the following, we engage with both literatures with an eye on the question of how security can be politicised according to the theory. Then, we suggest the concept of 'boundary objects' from science and technology studies (STS) as a useful analytical tool to capture and study dispersed discourses and actors in the endeavour to re/politicise and de/securitise security.

2.1 How security can be politicised

The concept of (de)politicisation became popular in the early 2000s as a reaction to the profound impact that unfettered neoliberal 'governmentality' had on how governmental tasks were executed. What scholars diagnosed was an increasing 'depoliticisation' of government, seminally defined by Burnham as 'the process of placing at one remove the political character of decision-making.' (10) Formulated as a critique of neoliberal economic rationales that spilled over into all the realms of government (often under the heading of New Public Management), scholars identified a set of complimentary strategies including institutional, rule-based, and preference-shaping approaches, which relocate decision-making into bureaucratic, technical, managerial, or formalised processes. (11)

Notably, depoliticisation, through the removal of genuine decision-making from politics, deflects responsibility from elected politicians.12 Such a deflection decisively undercuts principles of democratic control and accountability, as well as liberal ideals of open and inclusive debate. Consequently, even though some have argued that depoliticised forms of government might provide for more efficiency and discipline (particularly in times of financial or economic crises), most scholars writing about politicisation processes agree that from a normative angle, politicisation rather than depoliticisation is the desirable strategy. (13) A strategy of politicisation, as Jenkins puts forward, 'entails exposing and questioning what is taken for granted, or perceived to be necessary, permanent, invariable, morally or politically obligatory and essential.' (14)

In addressing the question whether politicisation provides a viable framework to analyse the way in which security is negotiated in the political arena, one must be mindful of what the mobilisation of security threats in politics means according to the literature. For Waever, an invocation of security sets in motion a securitisation process that has the power to lift the issue out of the 'normal' (desirable) political sphere, so that the associated threat can be dealt with swiftly and with all necessary means. (15) There have been debates whether securitisation must in this sense be understood as a case of 'hyper-politicisation' (16) or whether it can be conceptualised as a case of depoliticisation. (17) In any case, most scholars agree with Aradau that 'security institutionalizes speed against the slowness of procedures and thus questions the viability of deliberation, contest of opinion and dissent.' (18)

Hence, numerous scholars have foregrounded the normative implications of securitisation processes and call for opposing or reversing the process in order to return to 'normal politics' instead. (19) As Huysmans posits, 'the preference for desecuritising rather than securitising phenomena rests on an ethico-political critique of a particular organisation of the political.' (20) Given that security cannot easily be detached from notions of threat, urgency, survival, and enmity, the resulting dilemma is whether one could at all refer to security without (advertently or inadvertently) mobilising threat scenarios that by default remove security politics from normal political procedures. (21)

We believe it is possible: by bringing some of the assumptions from the politicisation literature into the securitisation literature. The key problem is the implied binary distinction of politics/non-politics that securitisation theory presupposes: either, issues are securitised and are therefore removed from the regular political arena, or they can remain non-securitised and therefore still be subject to normal politics. (22) Politicisation literature is capable of breaking this conceptual dichotomy so that alternative, more complex readings of security issues vis-a-vis the political become possible. From the vantage point of politicisation, an issue can very well be about security and at the same time remain within the regular sphere of politics, without an automatic escalation into the extraordinary.

2.2 Boundary objects as empirical lenses

Observing the maintenance of normal politics empirically is however a challenging task. In desecuritisation processes, a previously securitised issue is removed from the sphere of the extraordinary. Hansen identifies several ways in which this can be observed: change through stabilisation, replacement, rearticulation, or silencing. (23) With politicisation, such operationalisation criteria are harder to find because the processes are more multifaceted and, to some degree, more 'normal'. However, change throughout the spheres of governmental reasoning, societal deliberation, and discourse is the common denominator for all of them. (24) De Wilde usefully suggests a focus on the public sphere, and to look for an 'increase in polarisation of opinions, interests or values and the extent to which they are publicly advanced towards the process of policy formulation.' (25)

Similarly, Zurn argues that processes of politicisation are characterised by a rising awareness, an increased mobilisation, and contestation that surround an issue.26 As he puts forward,
'the core of the political sphere is characterized by public
communication about and contestation over collectively binding
decisions concerning the common good. Political decisions then become
politicized when they are drawn into the public light.' (27)


In line with these assumptions, Hagmann et al. summarise politicisation along the three dimensions of (1) controversy; (2) public awareness and engagement; and (3) shift to public arenas. (28)

Importantly, such an operationalisation does not take into account the 'end result' of the political process (if there ever is an 'end' to political processes), but only the process itself. In terms of security policy-making, what policy or law becomes adopted to solve an issue remains open--it is not a given that extraordinary measures or technologised managerial routines become implemented even if an issue is firmly rooted in the security field. The decisive element from a politicisation perspective is that the process leading to the result was contingent: that contesting voices were heard, that civil society took part in the debates, and that democratic standards such as open-endedness of debates or possible alternative regulatory options were maintained. In this sense, a politicisation of security covers security political processes without a securitisation logic that risks foreclosing the aforementioned characteristics by default. Politicisation of security would, in the words of Jenkins, account for 'contingency, conflicts, flows of power, capacities for autonomy and collective life.' (29)

In order to locate and facilitate the study of such deliberations, we propose to use the concept of the 'boundary object' (30) as an analytical tool. Boundary objects reside in the shared space between different, yet overlapping social worlds and signify contestation. For STS scholars, an object is not a material entity, but something people or other objects 'act toward and with. Its materiality derives from action.' (31) In other words, these non-physical objects emerge and are temporarily sustained through a set of collaborative practices. Even if there is no agreement over how to tackle a specific issue, these practices lead to the emergence of objects that have meaning to a large portion of society. (32) Since boundary objects 'mediate between groups, but [...] do not impose uniformity on them', (33) they allow us to study how different actors with different and often conflicting interests come together over a common issue.

Boundary objects have been used to study 'how scientific subfields and professions are demarcated and evolve in relation to each other, how science is separated from nonscience, and how a mutual accommodation process takes place at the juncture of science-dominated bodies and decision makers.' (34) In this article, we maintain that the concept can also be used in order to locate politicisation processes. We claim that political deliberation almost inevitably leads to the emergence of boundary objects, since normal policy-making processes bring together different groups of experts with various and conflicting perspectives on public issues. (35) In the case of (modern) security issues, we can observe that the diverse nature of threats calls for input from various experts from different 'communities of practice'. (36) If controversy, awareness/engagement, and the use of public arenas is a prerequisite trait of politicisation, then the existence of a boundary object is an indicator for the existence of politicisation and their identification can facilitate the further analysis of such processes. (37)

We argue that in the kind of processes we are interested in, we are mainly looking at so-called coincident boundary objects, objects that have a different internal content depending on the community using them. (38) To identify them, we follow Wenger, who characterises them through the following four characteristics: They have a degree of abstraction that facilitates dialogue between worlds, a degree of accommodation that makes several activities or practices possible, a degree of modularity, so that different parts of the object can serve as a basis for dialogue between actors, and a degree of standardisation of the information contained in the object, rendering the information interpretable to all the parties involved. (39)

We are not suggesting here that the study of boundary objects is the only viable option to study politicisation processes. However, we claim that the concept helps to conceptualise the interactive dynamics and the nature of political practices. In particular, they highlight negotiation processes between different 'expert groups', which seems to be a particularly important point if we want to understand the politicisation of security. In the next section, we provide a concrete example of how one specific boundary object influences 'the fluid network of formatting inclusive and alternative public opinions.' (40)

3. Privacy as boundary object in surveillance and cybersecurity politicisation

The coincident boundary object we investigate is privacy. Privacy is a pertinent concept vis-a-vis security, as it is, inter alia and important in our context, concerned with the relation between individuals and state practices of data collection and knowledge production. As a general observation, a varied set of security technologies tends to be presented as solution for the management of modern security issues. Be it body scanners at airports, biometric data repositories, video surveillance or computer firewalls, all of these technologies have something in common: they collect data, which in most cases is related to human beings and their behaviour. In their law review article 'The Right to Privacy', Warren and Brandeis in 1890 presciently noted that
'the individual shall have full protection in person and in property is
a principle as old as the common law; but it has been found necessary
from time to time to define anew the exact nature and extent of such
protection.' (41)


In the one hundred and twenty plus years that have passed since this statement, the nature and extent of such protection have developed significantly, influenced in no small part by abuses of the right to privacy by states, often by technological means, and by efforts to ensure remedy to them. Little surprisingly, then, privacy is one of the values most heavily under pressure today and an issue of high contention in political processes.

When 'assessing an intellectual construct we need to consider its function and its relation to complementary constructs, rather than view it in isolation,' Gasper notes. (42) Indeed, not only does privacy constitute a boundary object that aligns dispersed actors in their efforts to politicise or de-securitise, it also mainly becomes a meaningful object in political and mediating action between the different groups when it is mobilised and used in relation to the concept of security. As illustration of the mechanisms we are interested in, we look into two cases of politicised security issues in Germany.

In Germany, privacy and data protection are, due to the historical experiences of authoritarianism and state surveillance, anchored in a strong legal framework that is supposed to protect the citizenry from too much state power. This means that privacy might be more easily mobilised as a boundary object vis-a-vis security and surveillance, which helps the illustration of the concept in the following pages. Even if we consider that there is considerable cultural and political variance between different countries when it comes to the status of privacy, (43) Hallinan et al. have shown a general valuation of privacy among European citizens, especially when it comes to digital technologies and data processing. (44) Security technologies particularly, they contend, render abstract considerations about privacy and data protection concrete and tangible, and are therefore likely to spark public controversy and/or resistance. (45) This also speaks to the fact that technology itself can be a driver of new security and surveillance measures, which primarily serve economic interests rather than actual political concerns. (46) However, as the following case studies demonstrate, such economic drivers of security can be politicised and should be considered in the overall debate on politicisation. Since the bottom line of a politicisation perspective on security is the adherence to democratic procedures, the multiplicity (and potential messiness) of political voices and processes is what we are looking for.

Below, the first case covers the current debates surrounding so-called 'intelligent' video surveillance, where new legislation and the implementation of algorithmically enhanced cameras in public space were heavily contested by political parties, civil society, and the media. The second case covers the controversies surrounding an emerging agenda of cybersecurity, where a push for the securitisation and militarisation of the issue was counterbalanced by mobilising privacy as a securityrelevant concept. In both examples, privacy was used to resist security arguments and technological agendas, thereby not only firmly keeping the discussions in public arenas, where they were controversially discussed, but also providing alternative solutions for how the issues should be politically handled.

3.1 Surveillance and privacy

In the current debate about video surveillance and privacy in Germany, privacy features as a cornerstone for resistance against security practices that could undermine the capacity to live and move in public space anonymously. Not least sparked by several violent offenses in public space that could be prosecuted through the evidence of video footage recorded at the sites of the incidents, in March of 2017 the German government adopted a new 'law for the improvement of video surveillance' (47) that laid down the foundation for significantly higher numbers of CCTV cameras in public spaces, and particularly in those hybrid spaces that are commonly perceived as public but are operated by private businesses (such as for instance shopping malls or certain public transport infrastructure). With the new legislation, the government targeted a regulatory gap for (semi-)public spaces where the use of video surveillance had not been explicitly regulated before, and therefore many private businesses had been discouraged from installing surveillance cameras on their premises.

Moreover, the Federal Ministry of the Interior (Bundesinnenministerium), in cooperation with the Federal Police (Bundespolizei) and the Federal Criminal Office (Bundeskriminalamt) recently tested so-called 'intelligent' video surveillance software in a trial run at Berlin Sudkreuz train station. From August of 2017 until July of 2018, using the existing camera infrastructure provided by the German railway services (Deutsche Bahn), the trial run was supposed to explore the capacities of algorithmic video analytics in three areas: facial recognition based on biometric features; tracking that allows the monitoring of specific persons as they make their way through the train station in real-time; and behaviour recognition that automatically issues alerts if certain behavioural patterns are recognised (e.g., persons laying on the ground, assuming that assistance is needed; persons applying graffiti to walls, assuming that intervention is needed; unattended luggage, assuming that there might be a security risk).

In conjunction with other related initiatives, (48) Germany, a country that has in the past been rather reluctant when it comes to the use of video surveillance, is making a push towards an expansion of video surveillance infrastructure, coupled with an adoption of the latest technological capacities in terms of video analytics. When considering, in particular, the mobilisation of violent attacks and the role of video surveillance footage in the identification and prosecution of the offenders as a major argument for the need to have more video surveillance both in terms of quantity (i.e. law for the improvement of video surveillance) and quality (i.e. intelligent video analytics), one would--almost by default--expect a securitisation process which thrives on TINA arguments, and which meets little resistance in the public sphere. However, quite the contrary was the case, as a lively and nuanced ongoing public debate about video surveillance emerged, spanning both policy circles, the media, and civil society.

First of all, the parliamentary debates surrounding the law for the improvement of video surveillance reveal an absence of narratives that there would be no alternative but to increase of the number of available video cameras, or that such an increase would need to happen quickly in order to prevent existential threats. While Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maiziere (CDU), opened the first parliamentary debate on the legislative proposal (49) with reference to several violent incidents (a school girl being murdered on her way home; a woman being pushed down the stairs; a homeless person set on fire), all of which could only be resolved through available video surveillance footage (p. 21649), the ensuing debate painted a rather balanced and nuanced understanding of the potentials and drawbacks of video surveillance in terms of prevention and prosecution, but also in terms of larger organisational and financial issues of policing, and most notably in terms of possible infringements of civil liberties and chilling effects on social behaviour in public space.

The parliamentary opposition primarily mobilised arguments that foreground civil liberties and social behaviour in public space, in conjunction with doubts about efficiency and effectiveness, thereby referring to the notion of privacy as a protective sphere against state intrusion into the possibility of free and anonymous movement. Free and anonymous movement within public space were, in turn, depicted as preconditions for a functioning civil society and the very idea of democracy. Privacy was throughout the debates conceptualised as a protective measure against behavioural modification (Martina Renner, DIE LINKE, p. 21655) and as a value that lacked appreciation in the legislative proposal (Renate Kunast, BUNDINS 90/DIE GRUNEN, p. 21657). On the other hand, representatives of the government coalition (CDU/CSU and SPD) emphasised notions of careful consideration and compromise (Matthias Schmidt, SPD, p. 21660) as well as the low number of additional cameras that they estimated based on the proposal (Sebastian Hartmann, SPD, p. 21657). Even Minister of the Interior de Maiziere conceded that 'video technology is no panacea' and that there are numerous contradictory studies on the preventive efficacy of video surveillance (p. 21650).

The public hearing on the legislative proposal on 6 March 2017 (50) featured seven independent experts from academia (Hans Peter Bull, University of Hamburg; Kai von Lewinski, University of Passau; Andreas Ruch, University of Bochum), data protection (Johannes Caspar, data protection supervisor of the state of Hamburg), police (Jorg Radek, police union; Jorg Topfer, director of the Federal Police), and public transport (Jan Schilling, Association of German Transport Companies). Among the experts, the assessment of the proposed legislation varied between 'adequate and legitimate' (Bull) and 'trailblazer for total surveillance of public space' (Caspar), whereas others sought to provide a more balanced perspective and emphasised that the benefits and drawbacks of video surveillance depend very much on the vantage point of argumentation (von Lewinski). Overall, both the first parliamentary debate, the expert hearing, as well as the second and third parliamentary debates, (51) were dominated by a discussion on the reasonableness and proportionality of video surveillance, with privacy providing a main point of reference for the contra position.

There was however not only contestation and controversy within the parliament, but also throughout wider public spheres, demonstrating public awareness and salience of the debates surrounding video surveillance. These included civil society and NGOs as much as federal and state data protection supervisors and the media. Sascha Lobo, a widely known blogger, writer, and journalist on IT technologies and society, warned in February of 2017, with specific reference to the Berlin Sudkreuz trial run, that a combination of biometric recognition, behavioural recognition, and tracking in video surveillance could lift the political potential for social control and social ordering in public space to an unprecedented level. (52) Particularly when read against the backdrop of high false positives/false negatives rates, privacy, according to his argument, would need to be mobilised as a fundamental defence mechanism against ambitions of a control society that would be predicated on ubiquitous surveillance.

This argumentation can also be found throughout multiple NGOs that publicly criticise the expansion of video surveillance, and express their standpoints in public protests and events such as crypto parties, public discussions, or performances. Notably, endstation.jetzt ('terminus.now') has harshly criticised the Sudkreuz trial run as a danger for democracy through a lack of anonymity and privacy, chilling effects on social behaviour, and the potential for abuse and social control. They garnered a lot of public attention with a performative protest, in collaboration with 11 other NGOs, at the Sudkreuz train station on 27 November 2017 that informed the public about facial recognition and potential spoofing techniques and was covered by a broad range of media outlets.

Last but not least, the trial run drew critical attention from within the German parliament. A formal inquiry to the government, issued by MPs from the Green Party (BUNDNIS 90/DIE GRUNEN), asked for a clarification of a number of issues regarding the technological details and specific aims, thereby notably substantially honing in on the protection of privacy that should be achieved by making sure that no personal or biometric data would be transferred to third parties, that safe storage would be guaranteed, and that all data would be erased after the end of the trial run. (53) This position was also reaffirmed by the data protection officer of the state of Berlin, Maja Smoltczyk, who emphasised the threat of video surveillance to the ability to anonymously carry out one's own business in public. (54)

3.2 Cybersecurity and privacy

Privacy has also emerged as the pinnacle of political discourse in the second case we look at: cybersecurity. Worldwide, cybersecurity has become a salient political topic due to the discursive links that are established between 'high-impact' cyberincidents and geopolitical tensions. In Germany, there are two recent incidents that have decisively put the topic on the security political agenda: The so-called 'Bundestagshack', a two-stage attack on the governmental network infrastructure. In 2015, a malware attack crippled the Bundestag parliamentary network for days. German authorities eventually pinned it on a nefarious Russian hacker group with suspected links to the Kremlin, also allegedly responsible for the US Election Hacks. (55) A second attack on the German government network was made public in early 2018. It was revealed that this time, the hacker group used malicious software to capture government data over several months.

Given how expansive cybersecurity concerns have become with the advent of the Internet of Things, where an object as inauspicious as an insulin pump is connected to cyberspace and can theoretically be manipulated by a 'malicious actor', it could be expected that politically salient cyber-incidents like the Bundestagshack would feed into rapid securitisation. Yet, the opposite was the case. On the one hand, at the time of the second attack, efforts to implement the new national cybersecurity policy of 2016, (56) and attempts to further clarify roles and responsibilities of different government agencies had been ongoing. Rather than changing the direction of policy, leading to more securitisation/emergency measures, the Bundestagshack was simply folded into the existing discourse of digital insecurity and quasi 'normalised'. More importantly, however, outside of government, the incidents were taken as further indication for the overall inaptness of 'the government' to keep their own data secure and let to an opening for civil society to counter governmental attempts to use malware for political means themselves.

More so than (video) surveillance, cybersecurity is a field in which there is a strong belief in the superiority of certain technical experts and their specialised knowledge (and skills). Known under the generalised term 'hackers', they are both enemy and friend in the discourse, depending on who does the framing. Germany has one of the best organised hacker communities in the world. By self-definition, the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) has been
'providing information about technical and societal issues, such as
surveillance, privacy, freedom of information, hacktivism, data
security and many other interesting things around technology and
hacking issues' for over thirty years. (57)


CCC spokespersons (most prolific are Constanze Kurz, Linus Neumann, and Frank Rieger) regularly testify before the German Parliament on issues related to computers and security (for example, the IT Security Law) (58). On the activist side, members of the CCC have exposed a series of major security flaws in electronic systems, including early cell phone encryption and biometric identification (59) or electronic voting machines. (60) Most importantly, however, the CCC exposed the German government's use of a Trojan malware to spy on citizens' computers (the so-called Staatstrojaner), for the first time in 2011. (61)

The CCC follows the so-called hacker ethics, in which one credo is 'Make public data available, protect private data'. (62) Even though the politicisation of the issue varies over time, one of the constant topics has always been the right to privacy of individuals and how practices of state agencies have challenged that right. Here, we want to highlight just one recent campaign in which this boundary object privacy played a decisive role. This case involved the planned usage of another Staatstrojaner in the State of Hessen. Through the information campaign hessentrojaner.de, a broad coalition of CCC representatives and other civil rights groups, the CCC drew attention to the structural dangers of the use of a Staatstrojaner and managed to create a public debate about state hacking by secret services. (63) In terms of arguments, it was stressed that state espionage software exploits security holes in everyday software and thereby structurally undermines IT security. An intelligence agency would use taxpayers' money to buy knowledge about vulnerabilities in widely used programs on the black market or from some private company. Since these vulnerabilities can only be exploited as long as they are kept secret, the state would therefore willingly accept to leave them open to the detriment of all users. (64) In other words, the state would make the overall cybersecurity situation worse instead of better.

Privacy in this context takes on a particular meaning through its specific interlinkage with different meanings of security. Going beyond what is known in cybersecurity as the so-called CIA Triad (the protection of Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of information)--which refers to the protection of information stored, processed and transmitted to comply with the functions and purposes of the information systems--the privacy of information is related to the protection of information related to a subject's identity. Therefore, the principles of information security are not equivalent to the features that should be secured in information privacy, such as anonymity, the inability to link, the inability to distinguish, or the inability to track. (65) Yet, in a politicised environment, privacy functions as a boundary object that can engage the technical community, privacy advocates and those state officials who believe the right to privacy weighs less than abstract security gain.

4. Politicising security through privacy

The relationship between privacy and security becomes increasingly prevalent with the digitisation of many areas of (everyday) life. This relationship is further complicated by the contingency of both security and privacy. Both notions perpetually escape attempts to pin them down to universally accepted definitions. Security can cover a range of meanings that vary from traditional understandings of territorial integrity of the state and protection from physical force to critical perspectives on how security is mobilised to govern populations. Privacy, while in the vein or Warren and Brandeis historically conceived as a protective sphere against intrusion into a person's private life, keeps undergoing rapid transformations and challenges vis-a-vis largely digitised societies. (66) This renders the relationship between security and privacy as a fragile and volatile one, (67) as it emerges around two 'moving targets.' (68)

Many scholars, particularly from a securitisation perspective, have investigated how privacy and security clash against the backdrop of security agencies' desire to collect as much (digital) information about potentially dangerous persons as possible, and how securitisation logic in this clash tends to favour security requirements over the protection of individual data. (69) What has received less attention thus far in the literature is how privacy serves as an object of contestation (a boundary object) through which securitisation (and also, to a lesser degree, de-politicisation) tendencies can be challenged indirectly, rather than having to directly counter security arguments. Through its explicit linkage to fundamental questions of society and democracy, the mobilisation of privacy in the discourse helps to drag security back into the public sphere and anchor it there. In other words, the invocation of privacy issues politicises security. The point is not that consensus will be reached with regards to the question of which values take precedent (security vs. civil rights). What is important is that otherwise incompatible and not naturally interlinked groups of experts are forced to discuss the issue in a common and public arena, whereby the boundary object works as a temporary meeting ground.

The two empirical cases presented here vary considerably in political (domestic security vs. national security) and technological (video technology vs. hacking and cyberspace) context, scope (protection of the individual/society vs. protection of the state) and involved actors and communities (primarily law enforcement vs. primarily intelligence). This divergence is epitomised by the differences in the meaning of privacy: in (video) surveillance, privacy is understood as a protective measure against pervasive state measures of behavioural control, whereas in cybersecurity, privacy is more likely to be conceptualised as a means to keep data secure. Reading this divergence through the conceptual lens of boundary objects allows us to understand how this apparent contradiction could be turned into a productive (coincident) alliance. Building on the characteristics of boundary objects identified above, we can retrace how the notion of privacy is suitable to be mobilised across difference communities of practices and aligns varied actors in their endeavour to keep security within the regular political arena.

First of all, the multi-faceted nature of the concept of privacy--while at times seen as a disadvantage in discursive contexts--provides the necessary interpretive flexibility, since through the rather high level of abstraction of the concept, dialogue between different policy fields and strands of political activism is made possible. Second, withstanding the diverging interpretations as to what privacy means and entails in specific contexts, the idea of privacy contains a sufficient degree of standardisation that makes sure that conveyed information will be understandable and interpretable for all involved parties. These characteristics ensure that the notion of privacy can be modulated and accommodated according to the needs of different communities, and that its discursive value arguably becomes amplified vis-a-vis security arguments that--in the outlined cases--threaten individual liberties, societal cohesion, and the protection of data. This arguable amplification can be witnessed by the range of civil society interventions, critical media engagements, as well as political debates--all of which are characterised by a high level of public visibility and bear witness of the controversial and open-ended discussions that are symptomatic for the politicisation of a security issue.

visibility and bear witness of the controversial and open-ended discussions that are symptomatic for the politicisation of a security issue.

5. Conclusions

Normatively, in democracies, the possibility to have any issue discussed, transparently, in a public arena is the desirable mode of politics. Many security issues, however, have historically been treated differently. Given the urgency attached to them due to the threat of severe damage if not outright annihilation, speedy and decisive decisions were given precedence over slow deliberations in which controversy is a common feature. Today, however, security understood as the countering of threats to the survival of political entities is the exception rather than the rule. Most security issues in Western democracies are sought to be continually managed rather than decisively solved in order to keep them at an acceptable level. That opens up new avenues through which they can be politicised--in the sense of either keeping them in the public arena or forcing them (back) into the public arena when there is an attempt to handle the issues below the radar.

Hansen once stated: '"We"--academics, politicians, citizens, all who speak --must actively work through security to get to desecuritisation.' (70) Politicisation, as it was presented here, has the same function. The concept of politicisation can be understood as tool of resistance against tendencies to take the politics out of security: either to re-politicise issues that are already securitised or to keep issues from being securitised. In this way, it speaks closely to desecuritisation, the still underexplored part of securitisation theory. Ultimately, both concepts revolve around the definition of 'the political'. In the politicisation literature, we find accountability and responsibility as the desired modes of politics, whereas the desecuritisation literature raises mainly normative questions of social organisation and the question of value conflicts. Just as 'a desecuritising political aesthetics of everydayness has to incorporate a concept of the political which defines what is right and wrong or good and bad,' (71) we need to ask ourselves whether (more) politicisation in security is, to put it in a simplified way, always 'good' or whether there are circumstances in which it could also be 'bad'?

One question that is certainly not resolved, even if security issues are politicised instead of securitised, is the open-ended nature of political deliberation. Open-endedness means that even if civil society manages to politicise, there might still be decisions made at a later stage of the political process to (at least in part) securitise the issue with dire consequences for parts of society. In fact, in reality, different subject areas will probably always have politicised parts and securitised parts with both logics at play simultaneously: Security politics does not follow just one logic, but several parallel logics, mobilised at different times and for different facets of the same issue. (72)

If this is true, desecuritisation and repoliticisation are not straightforward tactics or 'tools' with which to fix the potentially negative aspect of securitisation. A focus on the process rather than the outcome has to ask the question of what truly matters. In the case of Germany, even if privacy continues to be invoked in the public discourse and has been discussed in an open manner for years, the government might still go through with more video surveillance or the use of government malware. At the very least, however, awareness of politicisation dynamics may already be enough to set in motion further such processes. Because, as Jenkins notes, 'if analyses of depoliticisation strike a chord, this could presumably serve to re-politicise, as we can see that things that are not fixed or taken for granted can be changed.' (73) In the case of privacy, an alternative to the dominant and security relevant interpretation of the political becomes possible. As Huysmans writes, 'the kernel of the desecuritising representation is the refusal to define the political community as ultimately a question of distancing from or eliminating the enemy.' (74) In the privacy debate, enemies are not what matters. Security is centred on the human and this security is an individual right--and not a state-owned privilege.

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Myriam Dunn Cavelty and Matthias Leese

Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich

https://doi.org/10.3224/eris.v5i3.03

(1) Ole Waever, "Securitization and Desecuritization," in On Security, ed. Ronnie D. Lipschutz (New York/Chichester: Columbia University Press, 1995): 46-86; Jef Huysmans, "The Jargon of Exception--On Schmitt, Agamben and the Absence of Political Society," International Political Sociology 2, no. 2 (2008): 165-83; Barry Buzan, Ole Waever, and Jaap de Wilde, Security: A New Framework for Analysis (Boulder: Rienner, 1998).

(2) Claudia Aradau and Rens van Munster, "Governing Terrorism Through Risk: Taking Precautions, (Un) Knowing the Future," European Journal of International Relations 13, no. 1 (2007): 89-115.

(3) cf. Jef Huysmans, The Politics of Insecurity. Fear, Migration and Asylum in the EU (Milton Park/New York: Routledge, 2006); Jonas Hagmann and Myriam Dunn Cavelty, "National Risk Registers: Security Scientism and the Propagation of Permanent Insecurity," Security Dialogue 43, no. 1 (2012): 79-96.

(4) For an exception, see Hendrik Hegemann, "Toward 'Normal' Politics? Security, Parliaments and the Politicisation of Intelligence Oversight in the German Bundestag," British Journal of Politics and International Relations 20, no. 1 (2018): 175-90.

(5) Susan Leigh Star and James R. Griesemer, "Institutional Ecology, 'Translations' and Boundary Objects: Amateurs and Professionals in Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907-39," Social Studies of Science 19, no. 3 (1989): 387-420.

(6) Jonas Hagmann, Hendrik Hegemann, and Andrew W. Neal, "The Politicisation of Security: Controversy, Mobilisation, Arena Shifting," European Review of International Studies (2019).

(7) Lene Hansen, "Reconstructing Desecuritisation: The Normative-Political in the Copenhagen School and Directions for How to Apply it," Review of International Studies 38, no. 3 (2012): 525-46 528.

(8) For reasons of space and focus on our main argument, we limit ourselves to a discussion of the speech act focused securitization literature, often referred to as the "Copenhagen School". Other securitization scholars have highlighted the role of bureaucratic practices, professional knowledge, and technological innovations as important drivers of securitization processes that often remain below the visible surface of public discourse. See for example Didier Bigo, "Security and Immigration: Toward a Critique of the Governmentality of Unease," Alternatives: Global, Local, Political 27, no. 1 (2002): 63-92; Jef Huysmans, "What's in an Act? On Security Speech Acts and Little Security Nothings," Security Dialogue 42, no. 4-5 (2011): 371-83. The preference for democratic political procedures is however shared by most of these authors as well.

(9) Claudia Aradau, "Security and the Democratic Scene: Desecuritization and Emancipation," Journal of International Relations and Development 7, no. 4 (2004): 388-413 393.

(10) Peter Burnham, "New Labour and the Politics of Depoliticisation," British Journal of Politics and International Relations 3, no. 2 (2001): 127-49 128.

(11) Matthew Flinders and Jim Buller, "Depoliticisation: Principles, Tactics and Tools," British Politics 1, no. 3 (2006): 293-318; Matthew Wood and Matthew Flinders, "Rethinking Depoliticisation: Beyond the Governmental," Policy & Politics 42, no. 2 (2014): 151-70.

(12) Matthew Wood, "Politicisation, Depoliticisation and Anti-Politics: Towards a Multilevel Research Agenda," Political Studies Review 14, no. 4 (2016): 521-33 523.

(13) Laura Jenkins, "The Difference Genealogy Makes: Strategies for Politicisation or How to Extend Capacities for Autonomy," Political Studies 59, no. 1 (2011): 156-74; Michael Zurn, "The Politicization of World Politics and its Effects: Eight Propositions," European Political Science Review 6, no. 1 (2014): 47-71.

(14) Jenkins, 159.

(15) Waever, 54.

(16) Buzan, Waever, and de Wilde, 120.

(17) Wood and Flinders.

(18) Aradau, 392.

(19) e.g., ibid., ; Hansen; Jef Huysmans, "The Question of the Limit: Desecuritisation and the Aesthetics of Horror in Political Realism," Millennium--Journal of International Studies 27, no. 3 (1998): 569-89; Philippe Bourbeau and Juha A. Vuori, "Security, Resilience and Desecuritization: Multidirectional Moves and Dynamics," Critical Studies on Security 3, no. 3 (2015): 253-68.

(20) Huysmans, "The Question of the Limit: Desecuritisation and the Aesthetics of Horror in Political Realism," 574.

(21) "Defining Social Constructivism in Security Studies: The Normative Dilemma of Writing Security," Alternatives: Global, Local, Political 27, no. 1 (2002): 41-62; Paul Roe, "Is Securitization a 'Negative' Concept? Revisiting the Normative Debate Over Normal Versus Extraordinary Politics," Security Dialogue 43, no. 3 (2012): 249-66.

(22) Matt McDonald, "Securitization and the Construction of Security," European Journal of International Relations 14, no. 4 (2008): 563-87.

(23) Hansen.

(24) Colin Hay, Why We Hate Politics (Cambridge: Polity, 2007).

(25) Pieter de Wilde, "No Polity for Old Politics? A Framework for Analyzing the Politicization of European Integration," Journal of European Integration 33, no. 5 (2011): 559-75 560.

(26) Zurn.

(27) Ibid., 50.

(28) Hagmann, Hegemann, and Neal.

(29) Jenkins, 159.

(30) Star and Griesemer.

(31) Susan Leigh Star, "This is Not a Boundary Object: Reflections on the Origin of a Concept," Science, Technology & Human Values 35, no. 5 (2010): 601-17 603.

(32) F. Harvey and N. Chrisman, "Boundary Objects and the Social Construction of GIS Technology," Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 30, no. 9 (1998): 1683-94 1687.

(33) Limor Samimian-Darash, Hadas Henner-Shapira, and Tal Daviko, "Biosecurity as a Boundary Object: Science, Society, and the State," Security Dialogue 47, no. 4 (2016): 329-47 331.

(34) Daniel Compagnon and Steven Bernstein, "Nondemarcated Spaces of Knowledge-Informed Policy Making: How Useful Is the Concept of Boundary Organization in IR?," Review of Policy Research 34, no. 6 (2017): 812-26 814.

(35) Hsin-Yi Yeh, "Boundary Objects and Public Deliberation: Analyzing the Management of Boundary Tensions in the Consensus Conference," Journal of Public Deliberation 9, no. 2 (2013): Article 5. Available at: https://www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol9/iss2/art5 5.

(36) Christian Bueger and Frank Gadinger, International Practice Theory: New Perspectives (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014); on the role of experts and expertise, see also Trine Villumsen Berling and Christian Bueger, eds., Security Expertise: Practice, Power, Responsibility (Milton Park/New York: Routledge, 2015).

(37) Similarly, for the international realm, see Amandine Orsini, Selim Louafi, and Jean-Frederic Morin, "Boundary Concepts for Boundary Work Between Science and Technology Studies and International Relations: Special Issue Introduction," Review of Policy Research 34, no. 6 (2017): 734-43.

(38) According to Star and Griesemer, there are four generic types of boundary objects to study: repositories (common pools of data and information), ideal types (an abstraction of something, which is still understood by all parties involved), coincident boundaries (objects that have a different internal content depending on the community using them), and standardized forms (information objects developed specifically for communication across dispersed communities). Star and Griesemer, 410-12.

(39) Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 107.

(40) Yeh, 5.

(41) Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis, "The Right to Privacy," Harvard Law Review 4, no. 5 (1890): 193-220 193.

(42) Des Gasper, "Securing Humanity: Situating 'Human Security' as Concept and Discourse," Journal of Human Development 6, no. 2 (2005): 221-45 234.

(43) Elia Zureik et al., eds., Surveillance, Privacy, and the Globalization of Personal Information: International Comparisons (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010).

(44) Dara Hallinan, Michael Friedewald, and Paul McCarthy, "Citizens' Perceptions of Data Protection and Privacy in Europe," Computer Law & Security Review 28, no. 3 (2012): 263-72.

(45) Ibid., 271.

(46) Marijn Hoijtink, "Capitalizing on Emergency: the 'New' Civil Security Market in Europe," Security Dialogue

45, no. 5 (2014): 458-75; Ben Hayes, "The Surveillance-Industrial Complex," in Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies, ed. Kirstie Ball, Kevin D. Haggerty, and David Lyon (London/New York: Routledge, 2012): 167-75.

(47) "Videouberwachungsverbesserungsgesetz", Bundesgesetzblatt Teil I Nr. 23, "Gesetz zur Anderung des Bundesdatenschutzgesetzes--Erhohung der Sicherheit in offentlich zuganglichen grossflachigen Anlagen und im offentlichen Personenverkehr durch optisch-elektronische Einrichtungen (Videouberwachungsverbesserungsgesetz), 28 April," (Bonn Bundesanzeiger Verlag, 2017).

(48) e.g. a recently adopted law that allows for the use of so-called body cams attached to the uniforms of police officers, Bundesgesetzblatt Teil I Nr. 26, "Gesetz zur Verbesserung der Fahndung bei besonderen Gefahrenlagen und zum Schutz von Beamtinnen und Beamten der Bundespolizei durch den Einsatz von mobiler Videotechnik, 5 May," (Bonn Bundesanzeiger Verlag, 2017).

(49) Deutscher Bundestag, "18. Wahlperiode--216. Sitzung. 27 January," (Berlin 2017).

(50) "Offentliche Anhorung am Montag, dem 6. Marz 2017, 13.00 Uhr zu den Gesetzentwurfen der Bundesregierung --Videouberwachungsverbesserungsgesetz, BT-Drucksache 18/10941 und Einsatz von mobiler Videotechnik, BT-Drucksache 18/10939. Available at https://www.bundestag.de/ausschuesse/ausschuesse18/a04/anhoerungen/105-sitzung-inhalt/494764 (accessed 18 May 2018)," (2017).

(51) "18. Wahlperiode--221. Sitzung. 9 March" (Berlin 2017).

(52) Sascha Lobo, "In funf Jahren ist Ihr Gesicht Ihr Personalausweis. Der Spiegel, 22 February. Available at http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/web/kameraueberwachung-wird-zur-verhaltenskontrolle-a-1135744.html (accessed 18 May 2018)," (2017).

(53) Deutscher Bundestag, "Drucksache 18/13350. Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage der Abgeordneten Dr. Konstantin von Notz, Irene Mihalic, Matthias Gastel, weiterer Abgeordneter und der Fraktion BUNDNIS 90/DIE GRUNEN: Polizeiliche biometriegestutzte Identifizierung von Personen uber biometrische Gesichtsdaten und Echtzeituberwachung von Verhalten am Bahnhof Berlin-Sudkreuz," (2017).

(54) Berliner Beauftragte fur Datenschutz und Informationsfreiheit, "Pressemitteilung: Biometrische Gesichtserkennung --grosse Risiken fur Individuen und Gesellschaft. 23 July. Available at https://www.datenschutzberlin.de/pdf/pressemitteilungen/2017/23072017_Biometrische_Gesichtserkennung.pdf (accessed 18 May 2018)," (2017).

(55) Patrick Beuth et al., "Merkel and the Fancy Bear. Die Zeit, 12 May. Available at https://www.zeit.de/2017/20/cyberangriff-bundestag-fancy-bear-angela-merkel-hacker-russland/komplettansicht (accessed 18 June 2018)," (2017).

(56) The Federal Government, "White Paper on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr," (Berlin Federal Ministry of the Interior, 2016).

(57) Website of the CCC: https://www.ccc.de/en/home (accessed 18 June 2018).

(58) "Anhorung zum IT-Sicherheitsgesetz: Linus Neumann Vanity Version>>, YouTube Link (21 April 2015): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4Z5Y8SLvic (accessed 18 June 2018).

(59) "Stellungnahme des CCC zur eID und zum Gesetzentwurf zur Forderung des elektronischen Identitatsnachweises" (19th April 2017): https://www.ccc.de/system/uploads/225/original/ccc-stellungnahmee-ID.pdf (accessed 18 June 2018).

(60) Chaos Computer Club, "Analyse einer Wahlsoftware. Version 1.1. Available at https://ccc.de/system/uploads/230/original/PC-Wahl_Bericht_CCC.pdf (accessed 18 June 2018)," (2017).

(61) "Chaos Computer Club analyzes government malware" (10th August 2011): https://www.ccc.de/en/updates/2011/staatstrojaner (accessed 18 June 2018).

(62) See website of the CCC: http://ccc.de/en/hackerethik (accessed 18 June 2018).

(63) Chaos Computer Club, "Stellungnahme zum Gesetz zur Neuausrichtung des Verfassungsschutzes in Hessen, Drucksache 19/5412, an den Hessischen Landtag, Innenausschuss. 4 February. Available at https://ccc.de/system/uploads/252/original/CCC-staatstrojaner-hessen.pdf (accessed 18 June 2018)," (2018).

(64) For example, the vulnerability used by 'Wannacry' has been deliberately kept secret by the NSA for many years.

(65) Mike Zajko, "Security Against Surveillance: IT Security as Resistance to Pervasive Surveillance," Surveillance & Society 16, no. 1 (2018): 39-52.

(66) David Lyon, ed. Surveillance as Social Sorting: Privacy, Risk, and Digital Discrimination (London/New York: Routledge, 2003); Colin J. Bennett, The Privacy Advocates: Resisting the Spread of Surveillance (Cambridge/London: MIT Press, 2008).

(67) Matthias Leese, "Privacy and Security--On the Evolution of a European Conflict," in Reforming European Data Protection Law, ed. Serge Gutwirth, Ronald Leenes, and Paul De Hert (Dordrecht/Heidelberg/New York/London: Springer, 2015): 271-89.

(68) Michael Friedewald et al., "Privacy, Data Protection and Emerging Sciences and Technologies: Towards a Common Framework," Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research 23, no. 1 (2010): 61-67 61.

(69) Louise Amoore and Rita Raley, "Securing With Algorithms: Knowledge, Decision, Sovereignty," Security Dialogue 48, no. 1 (2017): 3-10; Marieke de Goede, "The Politics of Privacy in the Age of Preemptive Security," International Political Sociology 8, no. 1 (2014): 100-04.

(70) Hansen, 534.

(71) Huysmans, "The Question of the Limit: Desecuritisation and the Aesthetics of Horror in Political Realism," 589.

(72) Christopher S. Browning and Matt McDonald, "The Future of Critical Security Studies: Ethics and the Politics of Security," European Journal of International Relations 19, no. 2 (2013): 235-55.

(73) Jenkins, 161.

(74) Huysmans, "The Question of the Limit: Desecuritisation and the Aesthetics of Horror in Political Realism," 588.
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Author:Cavelty, Myriam Dunn; Leese, Matthias
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