The Environmental Impact of Surveillance

The Environmental Impact of Surveillance

As our digital fellow from October through December 2021, Joana Moll will be providing a new perspective to tackle the social and environmental costs of pervasive surveillance by exploring strategies to raise public awareness of the environmental impact of data collection.

Joana’s ongoing project is commissioned by Aksioma and is currently under development in collaboration with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC). In this project, Joana and her co-researchers analyze the energy consumption of tracking technologies in the top 1 million websites. The global data collection apparatus is a complex techno-maze that needs vast amounts of resources to exist and operate, yet companies rarely disclose information on the environmental footprint of such operations. Moreover, part of the energy costs of data collection practices is inflicted upon the user, who also involuntarily assumes a portion of its environmental footprint. Although this is a critical aspect of surveillance, there‚Äôs an alarming lack of social, political, corporate, and governmental will for accountability, thus a call for action is urgent.

During her fellowship with the research group „Inequality and Digital Sovereignty,“ Joana will focus on analyzing the results of this investigation and exploring and designing strategies to raise public awareness on the environmental costs of tracking technologies to empower users to counteract it.