The whole area of surveillance/privacy invasive technologies appears
contextually rich in all of the more human issues arising from their uses.
As I interpret part of what you state surveillance technologies can equally
be used to the detriment of individuals as they may be by persons attempting
to protect others. The purpose(s) the data collected by the technology is
used for may then be seen as a determinant of the good from any perspective,
which can rather seem to deny any real privacy as everything requires
recording in some way to achieve those ends and hence makes larger
collections of more detailed data potentially available for misuse as well
as leading to increasing access demands to the various data collections for
differing but possibly allied purposes. Flexibility itself can then be seen
to be as much of a problem as an inflexible unchanging point which allows no
A result of adopting the viewpoint outlined here is that the invisible
vulnerabilities of all are increased by an amount correlated to the amount
of data collected and the people who have access. Misuses of data for things
like harassment and stalking may then become simpler and far less traceable.
As you state harassment does, sometimes, end in murder, just as to the
police, every missing person is a potential murder victim. Part of a
privacy paradox is seemingly illustrated there.
The flattening of hierarchical controls which technology and surveillance
can engender as well as enabling individual participation has a very high
potential to create more autocratic control structures. Those types of
issues appear in a great many areas where the individual is empowered by
technology, not merely surveillance/privacy invasion.
From: Research and teaching on surveillance
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ann Rudinow Sætnan
Sent: 02 May 2006 17:35
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: FW: online vigilantes....
From: Ann Rudinow Sætnan
Sent: Tue 5/2/2006 6:34 PM
To: Ian Welton
Subject: RE: online vigilantes....
One interesting thing about the sexual harrassment ones is the question of
who's invading whose privacy, who's watching whom in unacceptable ways. That
becomes a bit more philosophically challenging than the speed trap case,
although that one too has some in-built ethical contradictions. Remember --
both speeding and sexual harrassment are very real problems with serious
consequences. Harrassment does, sometimes, end in murder.
Another point of difference between the two cases: speed cams usually have a
clear cut-off point, a speed below which you will not be recorded, whereas
the sexual harrassment text indicates a problematic flexibility -- what's
just fun for one may be a mild irritation for the next and totally
unacceptable for the third, and whoever finds something unacceptable gets to
post it and "out" the harrasser.
Personally, I'd prefer calling the police in cases of sexual harrassment, a
lesson learned after _not_ calling them when I was kidnapped and attempted
raped back in college. Escaping on my own was one thing, but I should have
gone to the police as part of dealing with the aftermath.
Well, both cases are worth thinking about, but I have to do other work now.
I'll watch for others' thoughts.
Ann R. Saetnan
From: Research and teaching on surveillance on behalf of Ian Welton
Sent: Tue 5/2/2006 5:57 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: online vigilantes....
A link circulated by CPSR contains a story along similar lines.
CCTV and radar speed traps can sometimes be used in comparable ways. There
are many analogous similarities.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Research and teaching on surveillance
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Nils Zurawski
> Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2006 1:19 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: online vigilantes....
> this definitely falls under "people watching
> people"... the consequences of this are probably
> enourmous, if yet to be seen... as a surveillance
> issue this is highly interesting... and provides
> a lot of material for discussion on data
> protection, privacy rights, and social sorting...
> "Mobile vigilantes snap sex pests in action... "
> Observer from 30th April 2006
> best nilz
> Dr. Nils Zurawski
> Universität Hamburg
> Inst. für kriminologische Sozialforschung
> Allende-Platz 1
> 20146 Hamburg
> tel. +49 (0) 40 42838 6185
> fax. +49 (0) 40 42838 2328
> Projekt zu Videoüberwachung: http://www.surveillance-studies.org
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