Secret communications surveillance: Emergence and change of signals intelligence as a transnational field

Abstract

The 2013 revelations by Edward Snowden and subsequent inquiries revealed that communications surveillance takes place within long-lasting, bilateral and multilateral agreements between signals intelligence (Sigint) agencies. In her dissertation project, Ronja Kniep reconstructs the transnational field of signals intelligence along three cases: Telegraph surveillance during the Second World War; satellite surveillance by the ECHELON program during the Cold War; and Internet surveillance in the NSA-BND programme EIKONAL. The project has three goals. First, it identifies the rationalities and rules of Internet surveillance in contrast to previous forms of surveillance. Second, drawing on sociological field theory, it analyses the emergence of transnational social orders in the field of secret communications surveillance. Third, it develops a political analysis of surveillance as interference with communicative freedom that complements the common understanding of surveillance as interference with privacy.

Contact: Ronja Kniep