University of Queensland’s Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, AU; University of Iowa, US
Mark Andrejevic is a postdoctoral research fellow. He is also Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies. He is the author of iSpy: Surveillance and Power in the Interactive Era and Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched, as well as numerous articles and book chapters on surveillance and popular culture. This essay summarises and updates outlined in iSpy.
Approaches to the regulation of commercial information collection in the digital era tend to ground themselves on notions of privacy and consumer choice. This essay proposes a supplementary approach that considers the generation of personal information to be a value – generating activity analogous in important respects to productive labour. It argues that regulatory regimes need to take into consideration the power relations that structure the terms of access to commercial information and communication resources. In an economy wherein the boundaries between work and other spheres of social life continue to blur, access to such resources is not merely a consumer convenience, but an increasingly important workplace asset.