Keywords: counter-surveillance, obfuscation, data rights, lifestyle, opacity
In The Manifesto for the Truth (2013), Edward Snowden calls for transparency regarding data processing in the context of mass surveillance. Accusing governments of obscuring the truth regarding personal data usage and hindering the debate of the theme, the whistle-blower urges the availability of knowledge and the protection of human rights.
Unexpectedly Absent: The Halt of Remote Intimacy addresses the issue of data rights as a fundamental human right through the creation of a fictitious company, VERAX. The organisation presents itself as a beneficent entity, advertising counter-surveillance products and obfuscation strategies—from browser plug-ins to fashion—reclaiming users’ data rights. VERAX grants digital opacity and the re-inscription of such rights to its clients and through its extensive catalogue of obfuscation tactics comprising a variety of formats, which are marketed in the company’s website.
As a project, Unexpectedly Absent combines a commercial element, the promotion of a lifestyle and commerce around products to render your digital presence opaque, with the democratic act of disseminating knowledge around counter-surveillance, creating a layer of strangeness. This incompatibility presented in the project aims to promote the debate around data rights and present a criticism to its commercialisation.
Catalogue and website for fictitious company by Beatriz Pinta Gama.
Technical assistance by Diogo Lourenço.