Security against Surveillance: IT Security as Resistance to Pervasive Surveillance

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Mike Zajko


This paper examines Five Eyes surveillance programs as a threat to IT (Information Technology) security and IT security as resistance to these programs. I argue that the most significant of Snowden's disclosures have been the Five Eyes agencies’ systematic compromise of the technologies, networks, and standards in use within their own countries and abroad. Attacks on domestic infrastructure contradict the defensive posture of these agencies but are consistent with the project of cyber security as defined by the Five Eyes. The cyber security project of the Five Eyes nations is expansive in scope and has proceeded along dangerous lines. By assigning signals intelligence agencies the dual role of exploiting IT systems as well as securing them, a contradiction has been baked into our evolving notion of cyber security. A comprehensive response should include political and legal reforms, disentangling the Five Eyes' offensive and defensive roles, and narrowing the scope of the cyber security project. However, the most effective forms of resistance for individuals and institutions so far have been through an increased emphasis on IT security practices.     

Article Details

Author Biography

Mike Zajko, University of Alberta

Mike Zajko is a PhD Candidate in Sociology at the University of Alberta, studying the roles and responsibilities of internet intermediaries.


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