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Between Truth and PowerThe Legal Constructions of Informational Capitalism$
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Julie E. Cohen

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190246693

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190246693.001.0001

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The Biopolitical Public Domain

The Biopolitical Public Domain

(p.48) 2 The Biopolitical Public Domain
Between Truth and Power

Julie E. Cohen

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the emergence of a new factor of production in the informational economy—data flows relating to people and their activities—and identifies the legal construct that facilitates contemporary practices of personal data extraction and processing. The idea of a public domain of personal data has two interrelated effects. First, it constitutes personal data as available and potentially valuable, thereby supporting the reorganization of sociotechnical activity in ways directed toward extraction and appropriation. Second, it constitutes the personal data harvested within networked information environments as raw, thereby underwriting narratives of legal privilege that attach to the processing of personal data processing on an industrial scale and to the outputs of such operations.

Keywords:   appropriation, biopolitics, data brokers, data doubles, data harvesting, enclosure, personal data, profiling, public domain, surveillance

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