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Playing With Tools and Making Sense of Information Security and Privacy

Wed, August 30, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Sheraton Boston, 3, Beacon F

Abstract

Drawing on field work done with activists engaged with sharing techniques through "crypto parties", this mini-workshop takes seriously the engagement of non-experts with techniques and tools drawn from the practices of both information security professionals as well as hackers to make sense of practices often described as unintuitive or inaccessible (Narayanan, 2014). Although information security and privacy transcends science and engineering and is now an important area of analysis for social scientists, the figure of the "hacker" remain mythologized through mass media and even ethnography (Coleman, 2012). By engaging in hands-on experience with the material practices of data security and privacy the workshop encourages the production of novel or hybrid knowledges that cannot be developed only through observation or through a process of professionalization and formal training. The practical aspect of the workshop engages not only with contrived exercises that illustrate how tools work, but also offers a glimpse into the ways in which these techniques can fail and frustrate. Treating these tools and practices as quotidian instead of exotic is critical for engagement with models of information public policy (Mulligan and Schneider, 2012).

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