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Security Flows at the #SSN2022



Professor Claudia Aradau and Dr Ana Valdivia presented their work titled 'Methods, systems and devices: Patenting and the datafication of EU’s borders' at the Surveillance Studies Network held in Rotterdam 1-3 June, 2022.


Abstract: Borders and migration management have become important sites for data processing and technological surveillance and innovation. Yet, little is known about the specific details of algorithmic systems that private companies develop and implement at the borders. In this paper, we propose to investigate patents, which have been a neglected empirical site for research on borders and technology, to better understand how algorithmic systems are deployed to control migration flows. We focus on patents of companies that have been awarded contracts by the European Union Agency for Large-Scale Information Systems (eu-LISA) to develop new databases that extend technological solutions for migration control.


Patents are publicly available and structured documents that are important in three respects. Firstly, patents afford in-depth insights into the specific technologies that a private actor sells and implements beyond marketing and advertising materials. Secondly, by using digital methods, we can develop a systematic analysis of problematizations and socio-technical imaginaries of these innovations. Thirdly, our transdisciplinary research allows us to disentangle the specificities of technologies to investigate their ethico-political implications. This methodology helps shed light on the political assumptions and ethical implications of the methods, systems and devices patented by private companies developing EU’s datafied borders.

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