Writer and technologist James Bridle explores the concept of ‘Algorithmic Citizenship’ in new work Citizen Ex, co-commissioned by The Space and Southbank Centre, with support from the Web Foundation.

We are living in a world where our online identity is more relevant than ever. The way we behave online, the sites we visit, the people we interact with, has real-world implications. Visiting websites involves crossing invisible borders, both geographical and legal. In this world where you are from is less important than what you do.

This is having an effect on how we understand the very concept of citizenship. Typically linked to our place of birth or family history, the way our online identity is defined is increasingly complicating this notion, and carries with it a risk of undermining the rights traditionally associated with it. The NSA, GCHQ and other security services rely on browsing data to assign citizenship to anonymous online users, and determine if they can be surveilled. As a result of this constant appraisal, an internet user’s status under law may change from moment to moment, affecting your most fundamental rights as a citizen.

Citizen Ex is a downloadable plug-in for web browsers that tracks online movements against the physical locations of where websites are legally registered. It compiles this information to ascertain the real-time ‘algorithmic citizenship’ of the user and produces a ‘flag’ to represent the areas of jurisdictions traversed in any given online session.

Citizen Ex launches at Southbank Centre’s Web We Want Festival on 29 May. Visit to sign up for news announcements.

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