The world today is evolving to incorporate technology into every facet of our lives and we have quickly become a technology reliant society. Technology is now a part of almost everything we do. We use computers to work, to learn, to watch movies and TV, our phones are the first thing we pick up in the morning, then we check them periodically throughout the day and they are the last thing we put down at night. Devices like the Amazon Echo allow us to just ask Alexa to turn what the weather is like outside or to play our favourite song and our houses are now ‘smart’ and we have control of a number of different aspects of the house whether by voice command, tablet or smartphone. And the idea that all these devices are listening, monitoring and sending my information back to someone, honesty, freaks me the hell out.
Have you ever been talking to someone about a brand or company and then while scrolling through Facebook later you see an ad for that same brand or company? That’s a form of cyber surveillance. The idea of having something always ‘watching’ seems to be something everyone just pushes from their minds, but should they be more worried?
Our phones have now become an extension of ourselves and what many don’t know is that the thing they can’t put down is also the thing that is listening and keeping track of them 24/7. People are declaring that too much surveillance is leaving people without any privacy however, others argue that a society with surveillance will make the world safer (Bilton, 2013). But do we want to live in a world with no privacy?
Facebook, Google and other similar services make a business of tracking users’ locations, interests and habits. These services have been accused of regularly obscuring their privacy and security features and with each update, expanding their reach into our privacy (Sahu 2017). The video below discusses this more and about being a part of a ‘stalker economy’ during a Southland talk with Al Gore
Our social media apps are big on surveillance, an article from The Guardian mentions a car insurance scheme run by Admiral that analyses Facebook posts looking for evidence if first time car owners are safe or unsafe on roads based on their social media history and other apps on their phones. From the information they gather from potential customers, they believe that if you use calendars or bookkeeping apps, tend to write in short, coherent sentences on these apps and are a “well organised, conscientious type” they see you as a ‘safe bet’ and they may offer you a discount on your insurance. Whereas, if they see your social media as “chock full of exclamation marks, with heavy use of ‘always’ and ‘never’ rather than the more cautious ‘maybe’, that might suggest you’re a tad on the over-confident or reckless side” and are unlikely to be offered the discount those who are considered to be safer are offered. (Freedland, 2016)
For my Future Cultures project I have decided to look deeper into the topic of cyber surveillance I hope to gain a better understanding and I will show this through my research in the form of a research report. I plan on looking into the positives and negatives of cyber surveillance, in what ways we are being surveilled and what happens because of this surveillance and most importantly I will look into why businesses and governments do this surveillance. I will mainly focus on the surveillance that occurs on our phones but I also hope to gain insight on the other types of technology used for surveillance.
Al Gore at Southland2014, video recording, Youtube, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEEZWitmGMQ>
Bilton, N 2013, ‘The Pros and Cons of a Surveillance Society’, media release, BITS Blog New York Times, viewed 12 March 2018, <https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/the-pros-and-cons-of-a-surveillance-society/>
Freedland J, 2016, ‘Social Media Has us Under Surveillance – Big Business is the new Big Brother’, media release, The Guardian Australia, viewed 12 March 2018, <https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/02/big-business-surveillance-admiral-insurance-facebook>
Haynes, J 2017, ‘Ways Your Technology is Already Spying on You’, media release, ABC News, viewed 12 March 2018, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-08/ways-your-technology-is-already-spying-on-you/8334960>
O’Neil M, 2017, ‘Social Cooling – Does the fear of surveillance make you self-conscious about what you click on?’, media release, ABC News, viewed 12 March 2018, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-07/social-cooling-are-you-self-conscious-about-what-you-click-on/8878948>
Sahu, U 2017, ‘Cyber Surbeillance – Friend or Foe?’, Engadget, viewed 12 March 2018, <https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/23/cyber-surveillance-friend-or-foe/>