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Message posted on 14/01/2020

Call for abstracts - 8th STS Italia Conference

                Dear list members,
<br>apologies for cross-posting.
<br>We wish to invite you to submit an abstract proposal to the panel
<br>“*Surveillance infrastructures or open platforms? Aid and control of
<br>vulnerable populations through digital data*” (track 12) at the 8th STS
<br>Italia Conference “Dis/Entangling Technoscience: Vulnerability,
<br>Responsibility and Justice”, University of Trieste, Italy, 18-20 June 2020.
<br>Information about the conference can be found at this link
<br> Abstract must be
<br>submitted by February 9^th . For any questions please email
<br>Best regards,
<br>Lorenzo Olivieri and Annalisa Pelizza
<br>_Track 12: Surveillance infrastructures or open platforms? Aid and
<br>control of vulnerable populations through digital data_
<br>Annalisa, Pelizza, University of Bologna,
<br>Lorenzo, Olivieri, University of Bologna,
<br>*Panel description*
<br>The multiple ways in which data infrastructures and digital platforms
<br>can shape the organisation of society are clearly revealed when it comes
<br>to vulnerable populations like refugees, minors, the elderly, to name a
<br>few. There seems to exist a “division of labour” in this field, between
<br>data infrastructures conceived of as control tools and platforms as
<br>selfempowering resources. On the one hand, data infrastructures are
<br>obligatory passage points at any step of the processing of vulnerable
<br>populations, both by governmental and humanitarian actors. On the other
<br>hand, the semantic richness and ambiguity of the term “platform” allows
<br>attracting users, clients and advertisers by promising an open, neutral
<br>and egalitarian space. Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter, for example, play
<br>an increasingly important role in the movement of migrants and asylum
<br>seekers, enhancing their possibilities of sharing information. Yet
<br>closer attention shows a more articulated landscape. While institutional
<br>data infrastructures allow controlling people and mobility, they also
<br>give access to welfare services like healthcare and shelter. While
<br>commercial platforms allow bottom-up coordination and selfmanagement,
<br>they exert a role on delicate issues such as privacy, mobility tracking,
<br>identitybuilding. They represent a further source of control available
<br>to governments and European agencies. In addition, private companies
<br>analyse the data and meta-data of their users for commercial purposes,
<br>eliciting a further tension between
<br>vulnerable-people-as-everydayconsumers and vulnerable-people-as-such.
<br>Within this context, the technical affordances of each platform are
<br>decisive in determining uses. For example, migrants choose to use
<br>Whatsapp chats because they are encrypted. Minors communicate in
<br>Facebook closed groups to avoid parental control. Tailored platforms -
<br>like or WatchTheMed, anonymizations techniques and
<br>“zero knowledge” architectures might become a crucial factor in the
<br>management and protection of vulnerable people. This panel invites
<br>presentations discussing the two-fold dimension inherent to data
<br>infrastructures and platforms: how do they allow empowering innovations
<br>in the communications strategies of vulnerable people? How do they on
<br>the contrary produce novel or exacerbate already existing
<br>vulnerabilities? How is the modern distinction between government,
<br>business and civil society de facto reshuffled as a consequence?
<br>Contributions are expected to address, but are not limited to:
<br>• Development and use of tailored platforms in the humanitarian sector
<br>or by local, bottom-up communities
<br>• Co-optation of private companies in surveillance and risk analysis
<br>• Accessibility, privacy and vulnerability issues at stake in the use of
<br>platforms by migrants and infrastructures about migrants
<br>• “Inscription” of migrants’ identities in interfaces,
<br>and ontologies.
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