In this chapter I want to foreground how governments around the world are caught up in serious and mostly irresolvable conflicts when it comes to privacy and data governance. On the one hand, we have traditionally authoritarian governments like China and Russia who have acted to monitor, surveil and generally gather vast quantities of data about their citizens typically with a view to suppressing forms of dissent. On the other hand, capitalist democracies routinely undertake similar exercises, but couched in quite different rubrics; the standard framing is talk about ‘living in a post 9–11 world’, and invariably associated with deterrence against terrorist attack. But because governments have the technological capacity to finely manage (filter, distil, trace, monitor, identify) vast quantities of personal data themselves, they have the capacity to actually remove their former dependence on the network owners to comply with individual requests.
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