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Is ‘Big Brother’ Watching You?: The Rise of the Surveillance Society

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posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 02:35 PM
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Surveillance and Modernity

Foucault - Foucault

Premodern society: control via violence and repression

Modern society: control via bureaucracy and surveillance

Surveillance Society

David Lyon - Lyon

[Surveillance] is any collection and processing of personal data, whether identifiable or not, for the purposes of influencing or managing those whose data have been garnered.
(Lyon, 2001:2)

Precise details of our personal lives are collected, stored, retrieved and processed every day within huge computer databases belonging to big corporations and government departments. This is the ‘surveillance society’ (Lyon, 1994:3)

The concept of surveillance society denotes a situation in which disembodied surveillance has become societally pervasive. (Lyon, 2001:33)


Fears that the UK would "sleep-walk into a surveillance society" have become a reality, the government's information commissioner has said. Richard Thomas, who said he raised concerns two years ago, spoke after research found people's actions were increasingly being monitored.

Source
Further reading - Pdf

Culture of Vision

- Linked to power & knowledge

- Scientific method: central role of observation

- Everyday language: ‘seeing is believing’, ‘I see what you mean’, etc.

- Resistance: making issues visible

(Westwood, 2002)


HOW WE CAN BE WATCHED

4.2m CCTV cameras (1 for every 14 people)
300 CCTV appearances a day
Reg plate recognition cameras
Mobile phone triangulation
Store loyalty cards
Credit card transactions
London Oyster cards Satellites
Electoral roll
NHS patient records
Personal video recorders
Phone-tapping
Hidden cameras/bugs
Worker call monitoring
Worker clocking-in
Mobile phone cameras
Internet cookies
Keystroke programmes
Electronic tagging
Social network sites
Online shopping
GPS
DNA database


Two Faces of Surveillance

Care

Feelings of safety & security eg
- CCTV in cities
- Anti-terrorism surveillance

Enabling eg
- Credit cards
- State benefits

Control

Loss of privacy
No way to opt out
Having to prove yourself innocent
Behaviour directed by results
Reinforces stereotypes & discrimination
Loss of trust

History of Surveillance

Aspect of all societies

*Bible records Censuses*

Censuses referred to in the Old Testament

In these books of the Old and New Testaments references identify censuses or head counts administered by Hebrew patriarchs or Gentile rulers to assess military strength, sources of conscript labor, and who shall be taxed or killed.

Under Moses-Numbers.
Under David-II Samuels 24: 1-9.
Under Solomon-II Chronicles: 17-18.
Under Rehoboam-I Kings: 12: 21.
Under Jehosophat-II Chronicles 17: 14-19.
Under Amaziah- II Chronicles 25: 5- 6.
Under Uzziah- II Chronicles 26: 12-13.
Under Zerubbabel and Ezra-Ezra 2: 64, 8: 1-14.

Censuses referred to in the New Testament

Luke 2: 1 - 5.
Acts: 5: 37.(Herod-Quirinius).

*Domesday Book 1086*


The Domesday Book is the record of the great survey of England completed in 1086, executed for William I of England, or William the Conqueror. One of the main purposes of the survey was to determine who held what, and what taxes had been liable under Edward the Confessor; the judgment of the Domesday assessors was final—whatever the book said about who held the material wealth, or what it was worth, was the law, and there was no appeal.


Domesday Book

*Modernity: rationalisation*
- Capitalism: control of workers
- Bureaucracy: control of population

*Electronic & digital media : Virtual people can be ‘seen’ through digital information eg store loyalty cards.*


New Surveillance

- Quantitative & qualitative difference enabled by technology – pervades all aspects of life
- Postmodernity: the electronic era, globalization, commercialization, lack of boundaries
- Poster points to ‘the constitution of an additional self, one that may be acted upon to the detriment of the ‘real’ self, without the ‘real’ self ever being aware of what is happening’ (1990, pp97-98): a “digital double” (Lyon, 2002)


Ordering Populations

Weber: bureaucracy is impersonal in order to be ‘fair’ to all – need to check people are really entitled.
Max Weber

Foucault: social control enabled by surveillance – sense of being watched prevents us from stepping out of line.

Panopticon

The Panopticon is a type of prison building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in 1785. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the prisoners being able to tell whether they are being watched, thereby conveying what one architect has called the "sentiment of an invisible omniscience."



Bentham himself described the Panopticon as "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example."

Panopticon

Very similar to the closed-circuit television methods used in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four by the thought police to control the citizenry. At any moment, a person may or may not be being observed via a telescreen, though whether one is being watched at any given moment is unknown to that person.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Watching Workers

Marxism stresses capitalists’ need to control their workforce:
- ‘clocking on’, ‘overseers’
- Surveillance through CCTV, computers, tills, etc
- Self-surveillance through teamwork, appraisals, performance-related pay, etc

Karl Marx

Continued...

[edit on 05/08/09 by LiveForever8]




posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 02:45 PM
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Controlling Consumers
- Corporations need to know how to seduce us, so they watch our spending patterns
- Shops need to keep desirable customers in & ‘undesirables’ out
- Cities & malls need an image of ‘safety’ to attract customers: CCTV often paid for by private enterprise / partnerships & controlled by private security firms.

People Watching - Surveillance as entertainment

Reality TV: Big Brother - Big Brother

Webcams

Facebook -

When one of America's largest electronic surveillance systems was launched in Palo Alto a year ago, it sparked an immediate national uproar.
People complained that the new system violated their privacy. Facebook argued that it was merely distributing information users had already revealed. The battle -- and Facebook's growing market dominance in the past year -- show how social networking sites are rupturing the traditional conception of privacy and priming a new generation for complacency in a surveillance society.

Surveillance Since 9/11

Lyon (2003)
- Increase of control over care
- Increase in intensity
- Social sorting
- Destruction of trust

Prof probes impact of post 9/11 surveillance

Immediately after the 9/11 Al-Qeada terrorist attacks, government officials in both the U.S. and Canada were quick to pass legislation to increase surveillance of their citizens. But now, four years later, as fear of further terrorist attacks has become less acute and suspicion of government leaders' motives has heightened, more and more people are starting question the increased invasion of their privacy, says Dr. Kevin Haggerty, director of the criminology program in the University of Alberta Department of Sociology.
Source

Escalating U.S. Police Surveillance after 9/11: an Examination of Causes and Effects

The post-9/11 era has brought numerous changes in the tri-part relationship between global crime and terrorism threats, U.S. citizens, and their police. At the same time, the U.S. has changed in terms of the influences of advanced technology and globalization effects on these relationships.
Taken together, the conditions have produced a myriad of legal, political, social, and psychological effects on the American public stemming from escalating police surveillance. At the core, what has resulted is a far-reaching reassessment of the balance between police surveillance authority and individual privacy rights.
Source


Ineffective against “terrorism”

Even before September 11th 2001, the UK already had some of the world's most extensive systems for electronic surveillance and some of the harshest laws governing access to communications. New emergency legislation is sharply at variance with perceptions of Britain as a free, safe and liberal country.
There is a risk that new Internet surveillance powers will not be effective against terrorism or organised crime. Yet limited safeguards and democratic oversight may not be adequate to protect the innocent and law-abiding.
Could these security measures in fact be counter productive and threaten the freedom which they seek to protect?

Resisting Surveillance

Criminal methods: identity theft, fancy number plates, baseball caps, ‘Hoodies’ etc

Privacy Laws eg Data Protection Act 1998 - Info

Anti-surveillance movements eg Statewatch, Liberty, etc -
Statewatch
Liberty




Lyon: need to move beyond dystopian visions to discuss the ‘good society’


Debates around the concept of Surveillance Society


Surveillance as democracy?
Harkin (2006) argues that technology is enabling us all to become both the watcher and the watched – it is therefore democratic.

Synopticon – Mathieson’s “viewer society” (1997)

Thomas Mathiesen argues that while Foucault contributed to contemporary understandings of surveillance through his work on the panopticon, his analysis overlooks, among other things, the opposite and simultaneous process of 'synopticism.' The few may well watch the many, as they do in surveillance situations of constantly increasing magnitude.



There is no *official* Big Brother -no central command

However
- Increasing co-ordination
- Electronic superpanopticon?

The Panopticon offers a powerful and compelling metaphor for understanding electronic surveillance. The prison-like society, where invisible observers track our digital footprints, does indeed seem panoptic. Bentham would surely smile wryly if he saw us complying with institutional norms as we use barcoded library books or note telephone callers' IDs before accepting a call. The familiar distinctions between public and private life dissolve as both government and corporation ignore old thresholds and garner personal data of the most mundane and intimate kinds.

To think about…

Is surveillance a necessary evil?
Is there a Big Brother – if so who?
Are there many Little Brothers – if so who?
Are we all Little Brothers?
Can we achieve both security and freedom?



Thanks.



posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 02:45 PM
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I am scared of abuse taking place.



posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 04:56 PM
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Britain To Put CCTV Cameras Inside Private Homes


As an ex-Brit, I’m well aware of the authorities’ love of surveillance and snooping, but even I, a pessimistic cynic, am amazed by the governments latest plan: to install Orwell’s telescreens in 20,000 homes.

£400 million ($668 million) will be spend on installing and monitoring CCTV cameras in the homes of private citizens. Why? To make sure the kids are doing their homework, going to bed early and eating their vegetables. The scheme has, astonishingly, already been running in 2,000 family homes. The government’s “children’s secretary” Ed Balls is behind the plan, which is aimed at problem, antisocial families. The idea is that, if a child has a more stable home life, he or she will be less likely to stray into crime and drugs.

It gets worse. The government is also maintaining a private army, incredibly not called “Thought Police”, which will “be sent round to carry out home checks,” according to the Sunday Express. And in a scheme which firmly cements the nation’s reputation as a “nanny state”, the kids and their families will be forced to sign “behavior contracts” which will “set out parents’ duties to ensure children behave and do their homework.”

Source

The technology of surveillance


With millions of CCTV cameras and one of the largest DNA databases in the world, the UK is among the most watched places in the world.

But how does the technology work?

Below is a guide which explains how some of the main types of surveillance operate.


Source/Guide


Court curtails Met surveillance


The Court of Appeal has limited police powers to keep pictures of protesters in case they go on to break the law. Judges said police had been wrong to retain pictures of a lawful arms trade activist who was not suspected of any criminal offence.

Source



posted on Aug, 15 2009 @ 02:35 PM
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I work in the surveillance industry. In fact, my job title is Surveillance Shift Manager.


Throughout my law enforcement/security career, I have done many things that I had physically trained for, and really enjoyed a lot. Being based from a law enforcement family, martial arts, etc...I didn't think I could find a "better" job than being able to apply what I was grown to know, to my career.
Not too many people can say that.

But, I was given sneak peaks into other aspects of the jobs I was doing, that seemed fascinating.

It was a very unfamiliar way, to do what I had always been doing. In fact sometimes I still feel a little "weird" about the ability to monitor issues without being detected.

I've switched atmosphere's as well, and am in the gaming industry. (This ads even more challenge) as things like math, physics can be applied as well. I was really hoping not to need those "tools" again. But it is fun. I really enjoy it a lot. The technology is fantastic.

As for the fears.
My opinion is this.
Information gathered, is for the purpose of the given situation.
Once the situation has passed, the information is "fluff". It really no longer matters, unless the situation has potential to be repeated. In a "fluff" situation, sure the information exists, but is usually a daunting task to re gather it.

Where I know my tools have helped find solutions to horrific events, that otherwise would be left unsolved...I also know that people think we are here to steal your freedoms. That couldn't be further from the truth.
You may not want us watching your back, but when something bad happens, people rely on the info we were able to gather with our surveillance techniques.

I don't agree with cameras in houses. I agree that problem areas could better use a camera on the corner of the street, rather than a policeman on every corner.
The policeman merely forces the problem to where the officer isn't.
The camera is EASILY forgettable after (usually a short period of time)
Despite peoples arguments about fascism/big brother etc...the camera gets forgotten. They often say the same about the policeman on every corner too.

If used properly, is a fantastic tool. Much better evidence presenter as well, than the possibly lying police officer.

Yes, they could easily become the other. But in the hands of humans, pretty much anything can be used for as much good as bad.

I guess it's all about the balance. In the end.



posted on Aug, 15 2009 @ 03:55 PM
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Originally posted by Demoncreeper
I work in the surveillance industry. In fact, my job title is Surveillance Shift Manager.


Throughout my law enforcement/security career, I have done many things that I had physically trained for, and really enjoyed a lot. Being based from a law enforcement family, martial arts, etc...I didn't think I could find a "better" job than being able to apply what I was grown to know, to my career.
Not too many people can say that.

But, I was given sneak peaks into other aspects of the jobs I was doing, that seemed fascinating.

It was a very unfamiliar way, to do what I had always been doing. In fact sometimes I still feel a little "weird" about the ability to monitor issues without being detected.

I've switched atmosphere's as well, and am in the gaming industry. (This ads even more challenge) as things like math, physics can be applied as well. I was really hoping not to need those "tools" again. But it is fun. I really enjoy it a lot. The technology is fantastic.

As for the fears.
My opinion is this.
Information gathered, is for the purpose of the given situation.
Once the situation has passed, the information is "fluff". It really no longer matters, unless the situation has potential to be repeated. In a "fluff" situation, sure the information exists, but is usually a daunting task to re gather it.

Where I know my tools have helped find solutions to horrific events, that otherwise would be left unsolved...I also know that people think we are here to steal your freedoms. That couldn't be further from the truth.
You may not want us watching your back, but when something bad happens, people rely on the info we were able to gather with our surveillance techniques.

I don't agree with cameras in houses. I agree that problem areas could better use a camera on the corner of the street, rather than a policeman on every corner.
The policeman merely forces the problem to where the officer isn't.
The camera is EASILY forgettable after (usually a short period of time)
Despite peoples arguments about fascism/big brother etc...the camera gets forgotten. They often say the same about the policeman on every corner too.

If used properly, is a fantastic tool. Much better evidence presenter as well, than the possibly lying police officer.

Yes, they could easily become the other. But in the hands of humans, pretty much anything can be used for as much good as bad.

I guess it's all about the balance. In the end.
You get to spy on people growing up! www.youtube.com...
Freewill. Moral love is the law. Moral love and moral logic under freewill. Harm none.
What do you bet...The watchers are watching the watchers. Infinite... to make sure there is not abuse.

-Retired. Gods agent 777. Retired from saving the world. I leave it up to you 778. Look deep. hehe

[edit on 15-8-2009 by Azen thorhammer]



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