“Now you see me – now you don’t!” – Practices and purposes of hacking online surveillance

Mareile Kaufmann


This paper describes how hacking can be the act of redefining what is seen and not seen in the context of online surveillance. Based on a qualitative interview study with 22 hackers, it discusses the many practices and purposes of ‘hacking online surveillance’, with a specific focus on the techniques of disappearing from view while continuing to be online. Not only do these techniques vary in style and the expertise involved, but they all fulfill multiple functions. They are more than just a coded statement against the uneven powers of surveillance, they are tactics of the everyday life, moments of analytical creativity and reflection, instances of pleasure and play, affective encounters, identity work and forms of communication. The paper dedicates space to these sometimes overlapping and sometimes differing conceptualizations of ‘hacking online surveillance’ by using methodologies that consciously seek out the nonlinear and the multiple.


Internet, hacking, surveillance, data, obfuscation, politics, play, affect

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17951/ms.2018.2.85-101
Date of publication: 2019-06-26 08:58:26
Date of submission: 2018-03-23 16:23:04


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