HOW DO WE DEFINE PRIVACY IN A SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY?

by Irina Hentea

It has been a long time since surveillance societies were a question of science fiction. It is truly beguiling to observe how with every piece of science fiction a prediction about the future arises; they seem to foretell the direction in which society and technology are headed. I believe it would make for a great longitudinal study to measure to what extent the novels, films and ideas of today’s society build up the one of tomorrow. But that story is for some other time. Now I want to shift the focus on what surveillance society is and whether we are confronting with this situation in our reality. Image

According to an introduction to the concept from surveillance-studies.net, what we have come to understand about surveillance is that it is a collection of information in all formats about individuals or groups. We are talking recordings, video or audio, online tracking, credit card tracking, identity cards with chips, and so on. If we take a closer look to what we are using in terms of technology day by day it should be of no surprise that through one mean or the other someone could track our entire history of usage and consuming. In hopes of avoiding a paranoid approach, I am asking you to keep a distance from enormity and simply see things as they truly are; an inherent part of the technological evolution. With this evolution there is an increasing need for security and therefore surveillance is a way to balance the situation. Never the less, we cannot ignore the fact that all this collecting of data is done with a purpose; that of predicting our choices in the future for the means of regulating, managing and influencing[1]. Of course it has been motivated that the ultimate goal of such surveillance is to prevent civilians from terrorist attacks.

The big problem that we are facing I believe is no longer how do we attack measures of surveillance, but how do we define privacy in a digital, social media infatuated society? If I can look up what someone has done for the past few weeks on the internet is not because I am good at data mining but because that person has put it all out there himself. Take for example Facebook. I can look up where someone has been, what he has eaten, what movie he or she has watched because it is all on his or her timeline. So if this is happening where do we draw the line in what privacy is concerned?

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[1] http://www.surveillance-studies.net/?page_id=119

2009 documentary ” We live in public” portrays in a visionary manner how loss of privacy affects our life.

 

References: 

http://www.surveillance-studies.net/?page_id=119

http://www.funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/3157712/Surveillance+Society/

http://crimeandjusticeblog.com/tag/surveillance/

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