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Island.eu explores ways of mapping new techno-political geographies, based on the tension between Europe's data protection against the borderless reality of cyberspace and the simultaneous datafication of the Mediterranean sea as an extended border of European sovereignty. In the public program on Thursday September 20th at Het Nieuwe Instituut, Benjamin Bratton, Victoria Ivanova and Marten Kaevats shared their insights, and laid out the questions at stake. On Friday September 21st a research lab with prominent research experts took place in Amsterdam.

Platform States and Data-citizens

Since the early 2000s, a new sovereign model started to surface from the supposedly free space of the Internet: cloud platforms such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (GAFA). Over the years, it has become clear that these platforms represent not only a new corporate model, but also a political one that claims sovereignty over cyber and material spaces through its infrastructure and algorithms. At the same time, modern states are beginning to morph into platforms themselves.

Island.eu

In this context, the clash between the European Union and the American GAFA stack over European citizens’ data resulted in a showdown between these two logics of governance. The newly released GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is the first product of this battle.

While in Brussels EU politicians hear Mark Zuckerberg’s defence on the Cambridge Analytica scandal, at the southern border of the Union the Mediterranean sea is turned in to one of the most surveilled areas in the world by the EU itself. Projects such as Frontex and Eurosur are implemented by the European Union to map and datafy the surface of the sea, extending the EU’s sovereignty through the machinic vision of monitoring satellites and the presence of the coastguard’s fleet. Whilst flows of migrants from Africa and West Asia are claimed in the form of data, the people themselves are not welcome. Safety and efficiency are the regulatory logic behind these policies, with biometric indexing at the borders already being discussed.

Documentation

Full documentation of Island.eu research lab will be published on this website.

Kévin Bray
Het Nieuwe Instituut, Hivos, Stedelijk Museum
Benjamin Bratton, Arthur Steiner, Leonardo Dellanoce, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer