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Dr. Thomas N. Cooke

The Surveillance Studies Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada

Thomas N. Cooke

Oscillation, Feedback, and Time: iOS as a Cybernetic Control System. Or, How Jailbreaking (re)Establishes Time as a Crucial Dimension of User-First Privacy

In response to the ongoing proliferation of cyber-attacks, Apple continuously revises its information protection policies and practices, allegedly to enhance user privacy. I argue that the introduction of novel hard encryption platforms and stricter ‚terms of use‘ agreements only appear to enhance privacy. Conversely, these changes come at a serious cost to users as digital privacy continues to be transformed into a ‚top-down‘ matter of concern that increasingly relinquishes control over their data – further distancing users from understanding and negotiating how their information is handled.
Revisiting cybernetic concepts from within the philosophies of science and technology as an avenue for critique, the project articulates iOS as a control system that seeks to dominate virtually all dimensions of user data. Of particular interest are hacktivist privacy tools – developed vis-a-vis jailbreaking techniques – that offset iOS’s control, thereby re-positioning users to (re)claim control over the ‚how‘ and ‚what‘ of their data.

Main Research Topics

  • Digital privacy theory
  • Algorithmic tracking and profiling
  • Sociology and history of technology
  • Critical data studies
  • Silence and noise studies

Curriculum Vitae

  • Fall 2018 – Fall 2020: Post-Doctoral Fellow, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • 2015 – 2018: Professor of Sociology, the Sociology of Terrorism, King’s University College, Western University
  • 2014 – 2015: Professor of Political Science, Critical Security Studies, King’s University College, Western University
  • 2012 – 2017: PhD, Communication & Culture, York University
  • 2011 – 2012: MA, American Cultural Studies, Western University


  • Cooke, T.N. (Forthcoming). Surveillance Data: An Empirical Review of Data Materiality Scholarship across the Sociologies of Technology, Surveillance, and Big Data.
  • Cooke, T.N. & Dingli S. (Eds.). (2018). Political Silences: Investigations at the Nexus of Silence, Power, and Agency. Edited Collection. Abingdon, UK: Routledge Books.
  • Cooke, T.N. (2017). Cookies in Making Things International, Ed. Mark Salter. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Cooke, T.N. et al. (2016). Collective Discussion: Ferocious Architecture: Sovereign Spaces/Places by Design in International Political Sociology 10(1).
  • Cooke, T.N. (30.04.2015). Security, Power, and Digital Privacy: Agential Capacity through Fragmented Flows at Yale University in e-International Relations.

Dr. Thomas N. Cooke

The Surveillance Studies Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada

Fellow am CAIS von April 2018 bis August 2018