Privacy, Surveillance, Liberty, Ethics.

Surveillance has become an architecture of oppression. If someone accidently comes under suspicion (a wrong call), that person can be tracked, in as far as, everything that person has done online, everything they bought, can be scrutinised and every decision they made can be attacked. Also, companies will increasingly know all there is to know about us. We may attempt a backlash and not buy internet enabled or “smart’ devices, but so much information is available from our phones. Where will it end, we ask? Other questions we ask ourselves are ; who owns all this stored data? Do we consent? Surveillance is a means of social control. The social theorist and philosopher, Michel Foucalt said that surveillance is a means of ordering society, that used to be done through brutal public punishment. Where is the regulation of this new surveillance? When we consider that white collar crime is 40% higher than normal crime; who is watching them? What is the comparative percentage rate of the two types of crime for court orders? So many questions.

The recent Edward Snowden revelations revealed a vast surveillance and spying culture. Organisations and governments are collecting huge scale meta data, telephone and computer info, around the world. They are also buying content, such as google searches, web interests, documents, everything on line.

This is a threat to individuals. It is also a threat to true journalism. How can journalists protect their sources? How can they hope to research and present stories of interest, without the threat of their private information used against them? This affects us all. There is an internet principle that more whistleblowers will follow. I hope so.

In 1983 there were 50 companies that owned the media, in the U.S, today there is only 6. This is also a threat to journalism.  These few companies present their narratives and can veto the rest.

Social media is providing a platform where dissent can be aired and alliances made. (See Social Media/Activism blog entry).

Here is some good further interesting links:

Orwells Triumph, Novels Tell Truth Surveillance.

Cognitive surplus

Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2013: Evgeny Morozov – The Dark Side of the Internet

In it Morozov talks about our digital future. The digital future has not been written and we must think about our digital lives so we can make the internet live up to it’s promise not it’s dark possibilities.

 Some good points he brings up are:

 The government are using the same technology as the activists. The government pre-empt who they think might be terrorists. This is a distraction from asking “why is there terror”?

  • Amazon is making films, google is making cars. They are building technology that uses all the data they have on their users? They are saying – We want too see what are users want and we want to give it to them.
  • Take for instance, smart bins – that will have sensors. Recycling will earn points. What is the motivation here? People can decide to do the right thing for the right reason. Why should silicone valley decide this for us? Isn’t it presuming people cannot decide things for themselves.

So called smart objects or gadgets just seem really stupid sometimes.

  • The matter really isn’t whether internet good or bad but the intrusion of private companies into our affairs.

If we are regarded as consumers by those who are shaping our future digital technology. Will we allow this to be our role? One of passive consumers?

 Morozov also wrote The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, and most recently, To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism.


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