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4S Annual Meeting 2013

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference -Mixed Audience


Session 064: Imagining Public Issues in the Technosciences. Title: Objects of (dis)trust: imagining security and the use of biometry in a policy vacuum (w/ Kjetil Rommetveit, University of Bergen). Abstract: This article describes an exercise to explore social and ethical issues of biometrics in the European Union together with participants in an online deliberation forum. In the articles’ first part the biometric regime of innovation is described as aiming to re-configure relations of trust and dis-trust through tokens such as passports, ID cards and residence permits: who is allowed to enter the EU Area of freedom, security and justice, and who is not? Who is to be placed under suspicion and surveillance? Although some concessions have been made to the need for ethical processes of development and roll-out of biometrics, the policies and the implementations remain fundamentally wedded to a deficit model of the public and to high levels of secrecy. In the second part we describe participants’ imaginations as they were asked to react to and deliberate a vision of the unfolding biometrics regime (presented in a short flim). We show how imaginations of trust and distrust of fellow citizens and uses of public infrastructures co-varied with imaginations of the unfolding of the technology: some confirmed the necessity of the biometric security vision, thereby also explicitly upholding an imaginary of suspicious (unknown) others (immigrants, psychopaths, criminals, etc.). Others questioned the security imaginary and tended to highlight uncertainties and concerns over privacy. Finally, a small group of participants broke free of the established security imaginary and proposed alternative visions. Still, these visions were not sufficiently comprehensive or coherent to challenge the impression that biometrics is a large-scale public experiment unfolding in a policy vacuum, and providing publics and citizens with few resources for meaningful contestation and participation.

Event (Conference)

Title4S Annual Meeting 2013
Date10/10/13 → …
CitySan Diego, CA
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Degree of recognitionInternational event