Hacking surveillance


  • Mareile Kaufmann




digital technology, surveillance, dispute, hackers, Internet, assemblage


With the rise of ‘Internet behemoths’ and the surveillance of increasingly personal domains there is a trend toward questioning life online. This paper draws attention to hacking practices that engage with the diverse faces of online veillance. Current debates about hacking surveillance are introduced. Instead of portraying hacking as a digital counterculture, the article complicates dichotomies of power vs. resistance, online vs. off-line, and technological system vs. social practice. Based on qualitative interviews, it introduces the diverse, dialogical and ambiguous hacking practices that answer online surveillance. The article suggests using the concept of dispute to capture these multiplicities and to understand the ‘orders of worth’ at stake in online environments. The small, continuous and constitutive dynamics of disputing online surveillance not only create political momentum, but call for a re-thinking of the totality of surveillance metaphors used today.

Author Biography

Mareile Kaufmann

Mareile Kaufmann is a post doc researcher at the Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law, University of Oslo. A large part of her work focuses on surveillance practices and technologies, but also how people engage critically with these from within surveillance systems. Mareile uses qualitative research designs that combine theory with innovative angles and strong empirical components.




How to Cite

Kaufmann, M. (2020). Hacking surveillance. First Monday, 25(5). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v25i5.10006