Highlighted Selections from:

Big Data: The (Legal) Deluge


DOI: 10.1093/lril/lrt002

Johns, F. “The Deluge.” London Review of International Law 1.1 (2013): 9–34. Web.

p.12: Yet, social scientists working on these developments have also warned against their unreserved celebration, cautioning that ‘[t]he failure to link technological questions to normative political questions [and, I would add, legal questions] can lead to undesirable outcomes’. -- Highlighted mar 6, 2014

p.13: If data are, indeed, the ‘resources’ likely to fuel much 21st-century development, 20 then one might expect data’s mining and monetisation—amid developing countries’ growing numbers of consumers especially—to elicit a new set of stakeholder claims, conflicts and challenges to which international law should already be attuned. -- Highlighted mar 6, 2014

p.14: Nonetheless, if media historian Lisa Gitelman is right that ‘every discipline . . . has its own norms and standards for the imagination of data’, then nascent orthodoxies may already be at work in global law and policy surrounding personal data that are helping to structure and shape the emergent global data economy, and might yet do so further. -- Highlighted mar 6, 2014

p.16: Holding one’s attention upon particular ‘cultures of circulation’, rather than preoccupying oneself with the things in circulation, reveals much about the communities and knowledge that those cultures presuppose and help to generate, anthro31 -- Highlighted mar 6, 2014

p.17: That the ‘common good’ is best served by relatively smooth, unobstructed flow—open data movements, trade-favourable regulation and the like—is taken as given in both these reports without any specification of the ‘common[s]’ or commonality in question. -- Highlighted mar 6, 2014

p.21: The work of Stanley Deetz on organisational and workplace communication, for example, has long shown that access to information is not itself empowering: ‘The primary origin of power is not with [those] who possess information, but in the system of meaning which constitutes information.’ 49 Even if one is circumspect about Deetz’s vesting of ‘primary origin[s]’ in both ‘system’ and ‘meaning’ (as opposed to systems of value, dynamics of meaninglessness, or non-systemic configurations of power, for example), the points regarding transparency’s over-reach—and popular appreciation of this failing—still hold. -- Highlighted mar 6, 2014

p.21: The argument for transparency serves, on occasions, as a proxy for deregulation. The OECD has contended, for example, that ‘[t]ransparency rules may be considered an element of a comprehensive package of user empowerment or protective regulation, or as a substitute to express regulatory mandates’. 51 Further, as Jodi Dean has highlighted, the rhetoric of transparency helps to configure the information-saturated digital universe as a ‘consensual space’ fostering ‘enactments of a demos’ (experiences of disorientation, inequity and isolation notwithstanding). -- Highlighted mar 6, 2014

p.22: ‘[T]he privacy paradigm’, Thomas wrote, ‘lacks the analytical instruments for grasping the substantive, material core’ of harm wrought by sodomy proscriptions. ‘[F]or gay men and lesbians, privacy has always represented privation’; ‘privacy is the ideological substrate of the very secrecy that has forced gay men and lesbians to remain hidden and underground, and thus rendered them vulnerable to private homophobic violence’. -- Highlighted mar 6, 2014

p.24: ‘The “personhood” privileged in privacy analysis’, Thomas continued, ‘relies too heavily on an abstract image of the human subject as a moral self’. -- Highlighted mar 6, 2014

p.25: Thomas noted a devastating mismatch between, on one hand, the material bodies exposed to homophobic violence and engaged with its mortal politics and, on the other, the relatively peaceable domain occupied by the presumptively secure moral beings of privacy law. -- Highlighted mar 6, 2014

p.33: other directions (and potential pitfalls) for inquiry arise in connection with big data, its governing effects and the prospects for its governance. International lawyers making forays into this field risk, for instance, falling victim to ‘apophenia: seeing patterns where none actually exist, simply because enormous quantities of data can offer connections that radiate in all directions’. -- Highlighted mar 6, 2014

p.33: As Boyd and Crawford have highlighted, paying attention to material conditions of production, and to particularities of design and use, is often difficult in relation to big data; ‘[c]ontext is hard to interpret at scale and even harder to maintain when data are reduced to fit into a model.’ -- Highlighted mar 6, 2014

p.33: Accordingly, addressing dynamics of power and authority through norm-making across the global data economy will likely demand ‘extravernacular’ research experimentation. -- Highlighted mar 6, 2014

Add To Reading List

KP Donovan, ‘Seeing Like a Slum: Towards Open, Deliberative Development’ 13 Georgetown Journal of International Affairs (2012) 97, 98.

B Lee & E LiPuma, ‘Cultures of Circulation: The Imaginations of Modernity’ 14 Public Culture (2002) 191.

K Thomas, ‘Beyond the Privacy Principle’ 92 Columbia Law Review (1992) 1431, 1444, 1510.