Accepted paper:

Uneven Digital Security along the Merchant Maritime Supply Chain


Adrienne Mannov (Aalborg University)

Paper short abstract:

Imagine the masses of digital data produced by the shipment of containers around the world. The social meaning of this data varies radically depending on who produces it and what purpose it serves. This paper explores the cryptographic challenges to securing the merchant maritime supply chain.

Paper long abstract:

Based on on-going ethnographic research, this paper explores the implicit tensions in securing digital data within maritime supply chains. The merchant maritime supply chain is currently being transformed by automation technologies, all of which are dependent upon the generation of relevant digital data and its security. Along the supply chain, digital data is produced by different actors, such as shippers, port logisticians, and seafarers and stevedores. For some, the data represents valuable information that can point toward opportunities for more profit, streamlining products to customers' perceived wishes or needs or optimizing work processes that can save money. For others, the data represents ways to monitor timely handling of freight, proof of proper handling and compliance with national law. Finally, for seafarers and stevedores, this data can represent evidence of compliance with company, port state or international policy, social relations with colleagues, and daily work routines, accident prevention or rest hours. Although digital data is produced along the same discrete supply chain - for example the shipment of containers from Rotterdam to Singapore - the social meaning of this data is radically different depending on who produces it and what purpose it is meant to serve. The ethical and practical tensions embedded in these implicit layers challenges cryptographic practices and the rights they are meant to protect.

panel P082
Moving the goods: maritime mobility and logistics labour [ANTHROMOB]