Big Data and Global Society: Implementation of Surveillance into the Contemporary Democratic Matters


The emergence of new digital information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the provision of social network services nowadays can be considered not only as technological revolution but also as a great source of data concerning the major global dynamics. The sizable bloom of data amount, diversity and velocity generated by countless individuals has enriched the research progress in various academic fields such as political, media, cultural and anthropologic studies. Meanwhile, the global society has reached considerable results regarding the level of public interaction, exchange of information and engagement into the overall process of institutional decisions-making and governmental functionalism. Still, despite the numerous positive ICTs outcomes, the social opinion towards the implementation of certain specific digital services into the democratic matters remains controversial. Due to this point, the current article emphasizes the implementation of surveillance into the contemporary democratic matters with the intention to represent the motives of social concern towards the subject.

Key words: Big data, global society, ICTs, political studies, surveillance, democracy, citizenship

The Rise of Technological Revolution

Despite that technology is not a single precondition for the emergence of digital and social networks the great achievements of 1970s in the information scientific field have put strong impact on the following global tendencies. The spread of ICT services has enabled both states and citizens to expand their creative potential. Over time, the world society has become more reliant on technology by adapting it to the contemporary civil preferences, values and demands. The stunning ability of contemporary citizens to adapt and interact freely with the digital and social network facilities has drastically changed the already established socio-political and economic global arrangements. As a result, the implementation and assist of ICTs into the global society have leaded to general structural decentralization of the democratic decision-making processes.

Moreover, the flexible and adaptive nature of the digital communication networks as well as their function to provide access to information and data sets have accelerated the wold institutional dialogue in various directions, i.e. some of the contemporary topics of higher public consideration are associated with the development of electronic democracy, social activism and revolutions and expression of human rights. The occurrence of these matters has given rise of new insights concerning the dynamics of civil representation into the international political affairs.

How Big Data Has Influenced the Field of Political Studies?

The advance of digital and network technologies has inspired sizable bloom of data amount, diversity and velocity generated by countless individuals. This combination of big data including Internet and its characteristic of being simultaneously public, marketing and political web space has initiated the advent of so-called user-generated data category the content of which has passed through considerable changes in global aspect.

Similarly to other scientific realms such as media, cultural and anthropologic studies the use of big data and Internet by the global society has also enriched the research progress in the field of political studies. Despite that the recent existence of multiple technical developments and database systems such as YouTube and Facebook aggregate large amount of data which cannot be easily stored and analysed, i.e. YouTube has 72 hours of video uploaded every minute and Facebook is processing approximately 2.5 billion pieces of content or 500 terabytes of data every day, the civil participation in such digital platforms is one of the most significant sources of content as regards the level of social engagement in the current global tendencies.

Besides, the direct impact which the social networks` members provide through the ICTs enables comparatively fast selection of information, sufficient content analysis and relevant outcomes towards the designated research case study. In this sense, the new digital techniques allow smooth and quick extraction of semantic information from data without the need of long-standing profiling process of data as regards the rapidly changing democratic attitudes.

Finally, the vast amount of big data related to social evidence and public opinion concerning political and legislative decision-making processes, e.g. electoral campaigns, adoption of governmental budget programs and participation in conflict and invasive practices, has facilitated the establishment of new types of correlational analyses that have not been achieved previously, i.e. researchers can presently anticipate for correlations in datasets related to all aspects of governmental, structural and institutional affairs including public reflection on both global and local levels. However, despite these constructive ICTs contributions towards the welfare matters, the public opinion towards the implementation of certain specific digital services such as the surveillance into the regular democratic practices remains controversial.

Implementation of Surveillance into the Contemporary Democratic Matters

Additionally, the surveillance studies emphasis on the description of cross-disciplinary initiatives and the interpretation of the new world priorities through the use of digital facilities. In order to achieve better results towards the intended objectives, multiple series of research and institutional affairs have been directed towards the collection, transmission, verification and use of private data with the intention to facilitate the working process of the already existing democratic models. In this sense, surveillance has become part of physical and automated observation, provision of visible access to personal details to institutional structures and organizations including their data analysis and classification. From theoretical standpoint, the involvement of such type of monitoring into the state activities can be recognized as a positive initiative for institutional development since it allows comparatively fast monitoring and reporting of civil routines with potential criminal character but this point of view is not necessarily supported by the global society.

The Question of State Defence and Public Deliberation

After the terror attack of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001 the need of new state security measures has leaded to the enforcement of intensive policing and intelligence surveillance practices with the intention to face the global thread of terrorism. As a result, many world states have followed the same initiative by adopting juridical norms and legislation in favour the surveillance expansion over societies. Thus, the role of ICT services became associated with compulsory control over society and restriction of civil and human rights.

Since then, the global political and economic course of events has deepened the negative standpoint towards the matter by intentionally informing the general public about the implementation of ICT and surveillance utilities in areas of conflict and violence, i.e. similar research topic has been already discussed in the article The Rise of Islamophobia in American Digital Media after the Attacks on 9/11 or How the Fear of Terror in United States changed the Social Perspective towards the Islamic ethnic groups? Moreover, the followed social distress and fear of terror have drastically increased the civil perception of never ending international competition, game of power between states and use of surveillance as a strategic tool for spread of capitalist interests and forced initiatives around the world.

Presumably, such lack of democratic consistency can be explained by the fact that after the Cold War the world social priorities became basically orientated on four main objectives set for deliberation among states or namely the improvement of public health, the creation of global nutrition protection, the development of product and market safety policies and the advance of consumer communication technics. In this sense, the further steps which have been undertaken by many governments in order the achievement of such goals do not involve the use of ICT or surveillance tools for national or international invasive practices. In addition, the created initial assumption among citizens that the accomplishment of the abovementioned goals requires increase of transparency and free access to independent data has also eased the process of social recession towards the already endorsed governmental digital legislative norms and regulations.


After the rise of technological revolution the ICTs have become of great significance for democratic states and world societies. As a consequence, the big data generated by each individual who has free access to digital tools fall under scope of various research fields including political and media studies. Sadly, not all of the network utilities implemented into the contemporary democratic matters have fulfilled the public expectations.

The involvement of surveillance into the current global affairs is a subject of both political and civil practices which are never neutral as regards their objectives. Besides, surveillance is a product of democracy and as such it is tightly related to the already established welfare hierarchical orders and standard aspects of moral and ethical social standpoints, e.g. human rights, public freedom of expression and civil democratic liberties. Therefore, the discourse related to surveillance and similar ICT services is of a crucial meaning concerning the level of social knowledge and adjustment towards the modern course of global development.


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