Framing opposition to surveillance - Political communication strategies of privacy activists in the aftermath of the Snowden leaks

When in the summer of 2013 whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the scope of the mass surveillance programs conducted by the National Security Agency and its international partners, privacy activists launched several global online and offline campaigns to protect privacy and resist surveillance. Applying methods of social movement frame and discourse analysis, the dissertation seeks to analyze the various ways activists have tried to shape the privacy discourse in a post 9/11 ‘Surveillance Society.’ A close reading of activist materials and texts over the course of four campaigns – “Restore the Fourth,” “Stop Watching Us,” “The Day We Fight Back,” and “Reset the Net” – reveals a set of frame packages, which are juxtaposed with the media coverage the campaigns have generated. In subsequent semistructured interviews with 21 activists from 14 countries, participants involved in the protest events were asked to critically reflect on framing choices, media dynamics and the degree of transnational cooperation among various privacy advocacy groups. The dissertation contributes to the field of grass roots political communication research by discussing the potentials and limits of anti-surveillance frames as well as providing a cultural and oral history of organized resistance against surveillance in the post-Snowden world.


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