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« infra-Legalities: Global Security Infrastructures and the Automated Governance of Terrorism and Violent Extremism Online

infra-Legalities: Global Security Infrastructures and the Automated Governance of Terrorism and Violent Extremism Online

May 11, 2022, 11:00 AM - 11:45 AM


The Heldrich Hotel & Conference Center

10 Livingston Avenue

New Brunswick, NJ 08901


Click here for map.

Gavin Sullivan, University of Edinburgh

Global security risks are increasingly governed through complex data infrastructures using forms of algorithmic regulation and automated decision-making. This paper explores the challenges that such global security infrastructures pose for how we think about law and regulation and shows how automated content moderation practices are reconfiguring the capacity of legal norms to ground authority, protect rights and constrain power. My analysis focuses on the detection and removal of terrorist and violent extremist content (TVEC) online and empirically follows one particular regulatory device: the hash-sharing database of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT). I argue that grappling with the challenges of data-driven security and content moderation in the TVEC online space requires analysing how legal practices, regulatory techniques and data infrastructures emerge and co-evolve together by following their dynamic interrelations as socio-technical assemblages. Drawing from Science and Technology Studies (STS), recent socio-legal debates on legal materiality and critical infrastructure studies scholarship, my paper experiments with an approach (infralegalities) for mapping global security infrastructures in action and foregrounding their regulatory effects, in order to make their broader political and normative stakes visible and contestable.

Gavin Sullivan (@g_sullivan) is a Reader in International Human Rights Law at Edinburgh Law School, The University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on the politics of global security law, algorithmic regulation and accountability using socio-legal methods. He was recently awarded a UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship for his project, Infra-Legalities: Global Security Infrastructures, Artificial Intelligence and International Law, examining how AI and automated decision-making is reshaping global security law and governance. His first book, The Law of the List: UN Counterterrorism Sanctions and the Politics of Global Security Law won two ISA best book awards in 2021. Gavin is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Princeton University Center for Human Values, a member of the ‘Transparency’ and ‘Technical Approaches’ working groups of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) and on the Editorial Committee of Transnational Legal Theory.