The digital world has gradually been empowered by technology into an all-seeing panopticon. The problem of being watched when using the internet is the crux of the article, titled ‘Who’s Watching Whom? Surveillance, Practices, Problems and Processes’ and opening with a personal note, it moves on to ramble with lines such as “A wise person might say that we should be really freaked out right now…”
The author probes into the world of watching, by referring to the observations put forward in the works of Gates & Magnet (2007), though not delving much deeper into the actual survey or quoting excerpts from the works talked about.
In January 2005, nearly 2,000 European citizens participated in a summit to discuss views on what trade-offs would be acceptable in order to perpetuate the equilibrium of security and privacy.
In the present article, the quotes from the French philosopher, Michel Foucault, are remarkably juxtaposed with the recent analytical studies by Mark Winokur (2008) and Gilbert Caluya (2010).
Indeed, we live in a world of ‘invasive technology’ (Euroscientist, 2015) where technology is fast advancing and is able to permeate barriers of security into personal data and browsing habits. Visions of ubiquitous computing are increasingly becoming a reality; what we search, what we see, what we don’t see, what we buy, what we wish to buy, what we read, what we communicate with whom, where we move, almost all activities of our daily life leave digital traces, that this invasive technology picks up. What could be a better manifestation than the PRISM surveillance program!
Wong (2015) notes:
“In July, the UN’s top human rights official, then-High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, issued a groundbreaking report on privacy in the digital age that directly challenges U.S. and UK arguments for secret mass surveillance.”
Such snippets enlighten us on how researchers and thinkers are pro-actively cogitating on the serious issue of constantly being watched. The article points to the fact on how a net surfer’s personal dossier including political attitudes and sexual preferences are also surfaced by the digital paraphernalia geared by unstoppably galloping technological progress.
The article also presents a few case studies apprising links that might provide helpful insights to readers. This reminds us how former NSA consultant Edward Snowden’s whistle blowing had brought the debate on privacy invasion to the forefront of domestic and international security practices (Henningsen, 2013).
In this article, we are also rightly made aware of several surveillance studies that has become a discipline in itself due to the growing concerns over privacy.
However it would have been interesting to explore whether people like being observed inside a digital panopticon or they choose to shut a few casements. The security tools that have been developed to turn on or off rigors on flow of information in and out of the casements of the digital presence of an individual should be completely controllable. But some cases where we are unable to access or use services without giving consent to the application to flip through our personal data and contact information, we have no way but to divulge. Trackbacks and synchronizations of email data with cell phone contacts often load our phones with unwanted contacts that we do not wish to keep in our hand-held device.
The article, somehow, does not mention any security tools. The author could have written about some available tools that can be used to manipulate access tokens and is intended for use by penetration testers, security consultants and system administrators. There are also private incognito browsers available for mobile phones and PCs. However how efficient these tools shield users from constant surveillance needs probe.
- Euroscientist (2015). Privacy: an endangered species in a digital world. [Online] Available from: http://www.euroscientist.com/privacy-an-endangered-species-in-a-digital-world/ [Accessed: September 2, 2015]
- Henningsen, Patrick (2013). Spying, Prying & Lying: The Rise of Global Digital Surveillance, New Dawn Magazine [Online] Available from: http://www.newdawnmagazine.com/articles/spying-prying-lying-the-rise-of-global-digital-surveillance [Accessed: September 2, 2015]
- Wong, Cynthia (2015). Reclaiming Privacy in the Golden Age of Surveillance. [Online] Available from: http://fpif.org/reclaiming-privacy-golden-age-surveillance/ [Accessed: September 3, 2015]