PICTURED: Dr. Asma Vranaki

In her upcoming article “Facebook Advertisements: Of Relational Materiality, Rituals of Consent, and Data Commodification” in the John Marshall Journal of Information Technology & Privacy Law, Dr. Asma Vranaki analyzes data privacy regulation in the context of Facebook advertisements.

Dr. Vranaki makes the case for a change in the concepts currently utilized to understand the regulation of social networking sites. In particular, she argues in favor of a move towards a lens of power derived from Michel Foucault and Actor-Network Theory to capture the complex and diverse power effects—including regulatory ones—generated in online environments when a legal right is at stake. Attending to the locality, fluidity, and diversity of online platforms in this new way will enable law-makers, policy-makers, and law enforcers to understand the particulars of the space they are attempting to regulate more comprehensively and how such environments need to be regulated.

The abstract to the article is as follows:

Current academic debates about cyberspace regulation privilege the idea of regulation through law, norms, market, and “code”. In this article, I argue that we need to move away from the dominant regulatory lens to an innovative power lens which draws from Actor-Network Theory and Michel Foucault (“ANT-Foucauldian Power Lens”) to capture more comprehensively the multiple and complex power effects, including regulatory ones, generated in cyberspace when legal rights are at stake. To support this overarching argument, I analyze selected empirical findings on Facebook advertisements derived from my qualitative socio-legal Facebook case study. Three additional arguments follow: (1) Facebook advertisements emerge as socio-legal-technological “assemblages” of humans and non-humans (“actants”) rather than the product of one actant, (2) Facebook advertisements generate multiple and intricate power effects including mass “dataveillance”, and (3) my ANT-Foucauldian Power Lens generates new insights into the data protection concept of consent.

Dr. Asma Vranaki is currently an Associate Fellow at the University of Oxford. She specializes in the regulation of information communication technologies. Dr. Vranaki is a qualified non-practicing barrister. She has been called to the Bar of England & Wales. She has also been called to the Bar of Mauritius. She holds a D.Phil in Law (Ph.D. in Law) from the University of Oxford.


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