Conceptual Approach

This project rethinks the problems of global security law from the infrastructure space it is creating, focusing on two highly salient case studies – (i) governing terrorism and violent extremist content online; and (ii) controlling the cross-border movements of ‘risky’ individuals.

The hypothesis is that the most far-reaching changes to global security governance are not being written in the language of international law, or enacted by expanding the formal powers of states and IOs, but being built through new configurations of socio-technical infrastructure and the expertise they are enabling.

The project develops and experiments with the concept of ‘infra-legalities’ to both account for these shifts and suggest novel ways of approaching the socio-legal study of algorithmic security governance. Infrastructure is usually disregarded as an invisible substrate and seldom conceived of as something through which power, knowledge, agency, governance and law can be generated and transformed.

Drawing from Science and Technology Studies, critical security studies, socio-legal studies and computer science, this project performs an ‘infrastructural inversion’ by analytically foregrounding and empirically mapping the seemingly mundane governance work that information infrastructure is doing in this domain (Bowker and Star 1999).

By methodologically ‘following the data’ through security encounters with targeted individuals and groups – and tracing the relations, knowledge practices, norms and socio-technical networks that security infrastructures are enacting – a different topology of global governance can emerge. Mapping data infrastructures in motion is key to understanding how AI and automation are reshaping law, security power, rights and accountability.