Big Data, Sexual Surveillance and Alternative Governance

Project Summary

Governments, industries and civil society are in the process of developing new frameworks, principles and guidelines for how we ought to govern automated decision-making and artificial intelligence – from design and implementation to transparency and accountability. The contested governance of sexual technologies – from apps and platforms to bots and devices – provides a unique case study through which to identify current problems and to generate new principles, values and approaches.

This project will examine existing practices in the collection and use of sexual data by both private and public actors. It will investigate how algorithms are taught to understand sex, gender and sexuality through digital proxies and the potential for new forms of discrimination. Finally, it will set out alternative frameworks for governing sexual technologies, including adapting a sexual rights agenda to a digital context and showcasing collective approaches to content moderation and data governance.

As part of the institutions stream, the project will make three distinct intellectual contributions to the scholarship: a new theory on sexual capitalism, which consolidates existing discourse on piracy, non-consensual intimate imagery, data scraping and platform policies; a characterisation of algorithmic sexual profiling, which exposes new challenges for anti-discrimination law; and an adaption of sexual rights to digital contexts, which expands existing jurisprudence on sex, technology and human rights.

DMRC research program

This project contributes to the research within the following DMRC research programs:

Project team

Project outputs

  • Journal article: Surveillance does not equal safety: Police, data and consent on dating apps

Project funding

  • Australian Government through the Australian Research Council – ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S)