Mattia Sguazzini

Privacy politics: Power relations in the extraction, management, and use of personal data by non-state actors



The extraction, management, and use of personal data are the subjects of a wide range of research, in different disciplines and with both empirical and normative analytical perspectives. The focus usually tends to be on the analysis of particular personal data-related conditions of individuals (and relative breaches), such as respect for or violation of privacy, or macro-processes related to surveillance by States or non-state actors. The aim of this article, on the contrary, is to answer the following research question: what power relations underlie the extraction, management, and use of personal data by non-state actors? For the purpose of this article, I employ a simplified information lifecycle model to keep personal data analytically distinct from the resources required to acquire, manage, or use it as a social resource. Furthermore, I use the concepts of solitude, intimacy and anonymity in place of the concept of privacy, to identify the different conditions on the basis of personal data-related relations between actors. The objective is to provide a theoretical framework capable of analysing existing power relationships between individuals and non-state actors related to personal data, which can be used both for normative political theory analysis (for example to understand what actions political power can take to rebalance power relations in the political arena) and empirical study of existing rights.


  • Power
  • Political Power
  • Privacy
  • Personal Data
  • Non-State Actors


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