Research Handbook on Human Rights and Digital Technology
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Research Handbook on Human Rights and Digital Technology

Global Politics, Law and International Relations

Edited by Ben Wagner, Matthias C. Kettemann and Kilian Vieth

In a digitally connected world, the question of how to respect, protect and implement human rights has become unavoidable. This contemporary Research Handbook offers new insights into well-established debates by framing them in terms of human rights. It examines the issues posed by the management of key Internet resources, the governance of its architecture, the role of different stakeholders, the legitimacy of rule making and rule-enforcement, and the exercise of international public authority over users. Highly interdisciplinary, its contributions draw on law, political science, international relations and even computer science and science and technology studies.
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Chapter 3: Beyond national security, the emergence of a digital reason of state(s) led by transnational guilds of sensitive information: the case of the Five Eyes Plus network

Didier Bigo


In the first section of this chapter, I analyze the current transformations of the definition, organization, and modalities of acquisition by which national security is delimited in different countries, and I argue that national security is no longer national as such, nor does it correspond to a traditional understanding of security as protection from war. This change in national security practices is what I call ‘the emergence of a digital reason of state’ based on the possibility for intelligence services to cooperate and compete to extend their goals of prevention of crime, terrorism or espionage by the inclusion of technologies collecting traces of human activities. This state of the game challenges the very idea of a ‘national’ security but this is not accepted or even acknowledged by security and intelligence studies. To understand nevertheless the structural changes, I propose in the second section to use the notion of field of struggles in a Bourdieusian sense in order to understand the battles between the actors that I called a transnational guild of the management of sensitive information, as well as the public controversies around the inevitability of large-scale surveillance. The positions of the field inform the struggles in terms of symbolic power between the actors and also the compliance of large parts of the public. The next element that I analyse in a third section is concerned with the forms of defiance and resistance against the power of these transnational guilds, that lawyers and judges or hackers try to put in motion, but which are often to some extent paralysed by the rapid acceptance that current technologies are inevitable and necessary. This form of doxa regarding the social effects of digital technologies impacts on the public at large and many academics, and reinforces a priori compliance, but is also generating alternative behaviours.

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