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Technopolitics of security: rethinking the intersection between algorithmic governmentality and science and technology studies in London and São Paulo big data surveillance systems

Grant number: 19/07132-6
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2019
Effective date (End): January 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology - Other specific Sociologies
Principal Investigator:Marcos César Alvarez
Grantee:Alcides Eduardo dos Reis Peron
Supervisor: Claudia Aradau
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: King's College London, England  
Associated to the scholarship:16/24525-3 - Predictive Punishment: The Detecta and the incorporation of Data Mining and Profiling techniques (Big Data) in the practices of Surveillance of the São Paulo Military Police, BP.PD


Over the past twenty years we have witnessed the use of various surveillance and monitoring tools by the military and police departments in the US, London and Sao Paulo. Generally, these tools are developed through public-private partnerships, introducing predictive algorithms and facial recognition systems that would help prevent crime and terrorism through "proactive" actions. They enable the sophistication of government security techniques, producing an enormous amount of knowledge about the "population," while indirectly governing their behavior and behavior. However, various institutions and researches have understood that these surveillance tools facilitate police discrimination and arbitrariness, restricting the freedoms of citizens in a dynamic of "iliberal governmentality". Thus, starting from the contemporary debates on Governmentality, Security and Technology, and through a comparative study between the use of these predictive systems in London, and São Paulo, the objective of this research is to understand how the introduction of these technologies inaugurate a security model that has its structuring practice centered on mass surveillance, and the governance of conduct through algorithms and analytics. In this process, we will seek to establish a parallel between governmentality, data surveillance and "iliberalism", which will allow us to infer how excessive and arbitrary measures taken in the context of this security practice have been normalized and perpetuated. Our main argument is that the performativity of these instruments can be understood as a form of technical mediation, as proposed by Bruno Latour (1994), which evidences, hides, intensifies, amplifies or "naturalizes" forms of control, political interests and lines of forces in security practices, in an iliberal form of governmentality. In view of this, we propose a case study on how predictive systems have been incorporated by the London Metropolitan Police, and why, even with the drop in crime rates, there have been several accusations that these systems are responsible for discriminatory practices. This would lead us to a fortunate comparison with our main object, the Detecta system of São Paulo, where the adoption of similar systems is becoming a way of giving vent to the private and segregationist demands of a part of the society. (AU)

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