Research

My name ist Eric Mülling and I am a scientiest at the University of Potsdam. The title of my doctoral thesis is „Big Data and Digital Disobedience“. My thesis advisors are Professor Dr. Heinz Kleger and Dr. Ansgar Klein. The project is supported by a scholarship from the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation.

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Research project

Big Data does not only stand for new data processing possibilities, it also represents a threat to civil liberties. Edward Snowden’s exposure of the surveillance programs PRISM and Tempora showed for which purposes Big Data can be used. The intelligence service’s huge database systems store dozens of Petabytes of communication flows. Public institutions collect the data of millions of people – without their knowledge and consent. Internet enterprises do the same in the interest of their advertising customers. While protest in different countries remains restrained, net activists try to change these circumstances. My doctoral thesis’ point of origin is the normative appreciation that justified civil disobedience is an option for resistance. Accordingly, Digital Disobedience would be an internet-focused version of the same phenomenon and therefore a justifiable form of opposition within a liberal democracy. In this regard, Snowden’s actions would be justified and could not be criminalized – not even in reference to security.

My doctoral thesis deals with Big Data techniques, shows their potential risk for actors of digital disobedience and examines the social tension between security and freedom in the network. I aim to answer the following question: How does hegemonic data processing (Big Data) threaten net activists and their digital disobedience?

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