An Internet of Everything?/Surveillance and Sousveillance

Surveillance and Sousveillance


Introduction and Main Concepts

Big Brother is watching you
Surveillance as compared with sousveillance

In 2012, Spanish press revealed that NSA (National Security Agency) of America had monitored over 60 million telephones' records secretly within the month of Christmas.[1] Der Spiegel, a magazine of Germany also proposed that there were 35 politicians being the main monitoring subjects of NSA.[2] We are living in the new medium times where all the information with regards to human society can be collected, stored and disseminated in digital forms easily. It brings us to a society of surveillance, meaning that "the few can watch the many". However, due to privacy protection, “sousveillance”, the antonym of “surveillance” enabling the many to watch the few, was proposed by Steve Mann, Jason Nolan and Barry Wellman.[3]

This chapter of 'An Internet of Everything?' will look into the main concepts of Surveillance and Sousveillance. This includes in-depth descriptions of the meaning the two platforms. For Surveillance, it reviews the organisations and technologies used to accomplish Surveillance as well as the laws and restrictions. Also, the section discusses the ideology that humanity is against Surveillance and the argument about whether or not video-posting platform YouTube is a form of Surveillance or Sousveillance. The chapter then shifts its focus to Sousveillance. It covers the history of Steve Mann, who is known as the founder of the term while later analysis covers different forms of sourveillance and its progress throughout human history. Citizen Journalism is another concept discussed under the term Sousveillance and will be looked into through the use of case studies that show both the advantages and disadvantages of Sousveillance.

When it comes to Surveillance and Sousveillance one seems easier to define than the other. This could simply be because we are more aware of surveillance as it happens every day, we cannot take a single step without some sort of surveillance watching over us. This is referred to as the “big brother effect” which will be talked about further in the chapter. Despite knowing that surveillance is everywhere it's something we are not truly conscious of. We were always told that it is there for our safety and to not worry about it however this subliminal messaging has made us forget how often we are watched. Sousveillance on the other hand is newer, therefore less known. This could be because of the technology needed to aid sousveillance (hand held cameras) did not become readily available to the public until recently, therefore only allowing it to flourish now. While the term is known as an activity of a camera equipment pointed to a form of higher authority sousveillance can occur when a group watches a more powerful one with any form of technology old or new.By taking a closer look at history we will see that the beginnings of first revolutions such as the French relied on means of sousveillance and resulted in overthrowing kings and changing societies. As a theory sousveillance was established and developed by Steve Mann who is discussed in detail further into this chapter.





The following section will discuss some of the known definitions of the word 'Surveillance'.

The word Surveillance is of French origin, its etymology deriving from sur which means over or above and Veiller which means to watch therefore the literal meaning is to watch from above.

Surveillance can be defined as cameras (or other sensors) affixed to property (real-estate, e.g. land, by way of posts or poles, or buildings). It is the veillance of the authority (i.e. the veillance that has the capacity to prohibit other veillances). Surveillance is, quite simply, observations conducted to gain information. This simple definition includes a plethora of techniques and methods that can be considered a form of surveillance. Many of these are recognizable through common knowledge produced by popular culture. For a full history on the development of surveillance please go to History of surveillance, here it is explained that the concept of surveillance has been present from the beginning of civilisation and only the type of technology and level to which we monitor the population has changed. From the humble spyglass to the modern RFID, surveillance technology has only developed and increased as time has gone on.

The most well-known methods include stationary surveillance, technical surveillance (typically covert video or audio recordings), electronic surveillance (digital observations, keystroke dynamics), and many more. Nearly anyone can engage in surveillance once properly trained and educated; individuals using the various techniques of surveillance range from federal officials trying to save lives, to private investigators gathering evidence for civil court. The Oxford Dictionary Online (2016) defines surveillance as 'Close observation, especially of a suspected spy or criminal'.[4] This leads into a discussion later in this book on how the growth of digital media has made the level of surveillance rise to a point where it could be argued the wider public is always under surveillance.

Types of Surveillance


There are mainly three types of surveillance. Omnipresent electronic monitoring through cameras in public places, as the technologies for power domination, violating the privacy and freedom of the public while protecting social safety. Network database overthrows the boundary between public and individuals, bringing individuals into a digital panopticon. Facebook, Twitter, blog, Instagram etc., enable the individuals to make their privacy widely known forwardly.[5]

Firstly, CCTV (Closed-circuit television) is the most popular technology for electronic monitoring. England, as a country first installing CCTV, has around 3 million cameras in public places monitoring individuals' daily lives day and night. Norris and Armstrong described a society filled with CCTV as "the biggest surveillance society".[6] Google Earth, a map search tool promoted by Google, provides real-time pictures and data for all users combining satellite pictures and the technologies of GPS, GIS, video streaming, and 3D. People said that Google Earth establishes an era where everyone can be a spy.

Secondly, the development of network database monitors the activities of individuals in their unknown situations. In 1990, TV star Rebecca Saire was shot by a fanatic fan at the door of her house. Investigation showed that the murderer found her address from her driver license's number registered in government website. With Cookies technology, not only basic personal information, but also the users' likes and dislikes, email address, etc. can be collected.

Thirdly, personal information will also be posted online forwardly by the users, which is an ideal channel of surveillance. Facebook, Twitter, blog, Instagram etc., are the most popular social network for ordinary people. They share their daily activities, pictures, reflections on the network. Even though real-name authentication is not a prerequisite for these websites, individual information and activities are also monitored. IP address is the basic method to confirm user's identity. The websites will locate the users' geographical position, including logging in cities or districts with IP address. If the same surveillance system is installed in two different websites, their browsing history can be tracked and analysed together. For instance, the user browses another website while logging in Facebook. When he/she clicks on the “Like” button in another website, Facebook will record the browse history of the website, not to mention recording the users’ friends from Facebook - with these information collected from different social networks, those who are monitoring the users will establish a social link for them in order to distinguish personal information including their friends, locations in different period of time etc.

Another type of categorization is based on computing and surveillance

Scholars in surveillance studies and information society studies have stressed the importance of computing for conducting surveillance for more than 20 years. This has resulted in a number of categories that describe the interconnection of computing and surveillance: for the new surveillance, dataveillance, the electronic (super)panopticon, electronic surveillance, or digital surveillance. Gary T. Marx defines the new surveillance as “the use of technical means to extract or create personal data. This may be taken from individuals or contexts”.[7] He argues that in the old surveillance, it was more difficult to send data, whereas in the new surveillance this is easier. In traditional surveillance, “what the surveillant knows, the subject probably knows as well”, whereas in the new surveillance the “surveillant knows things the subject doesn’t”.[8] He says that the new surveillance is not on scene, but remote, and that it is “less coercive” [9] and “more democratized” because some forms are more widely available.[9] Computerized surveillance is an important form of new surveillance. “Computers qualitatively alter the nature of surveillance—routinizing, broadening, and deepening it. Organizational memories are extended over time and across space” (.[10] Dataveillance is the “systematic monitoring of people’s actions or communications through the application of information technology” (Clarke 1988, 500). Clarke (1994) distinguishes between personal dataveillance that monitors the actions of one or more persons and mass dataveillance, where a group or large population is monitored in order to detect individuals of interest. Bogard (2006) argues that the computer is a technology that simulates surveillance. Gordon (1987) speaks of the electronic panopticon. Mark Poster (1990) has coined the notion of the electronic superpanopticon: “Today’s ‘circuits of communication’ and the databases they generate constitute a Super- panopticon, a system of surveillance without walls, windows, towers or guards” (Poster 1990, 93). Mark Andrejevic has coined the notion of the digital enclosure [11] in which interactive technologies.[12]

The third type of categorization comes from Ogura's (2006) and Gandy's (1993) argument that a common characteristic of surveillance is the management of population based on capitalism and/or the nation state.[13] We can distinguish between economic and political surveillance as two major forms of surveillance. Surveillance by nation states and corporations aims at controlling the behaviour of individuals and groups, i.e., they should be forced to behave or not behave in certain ways because they know that their appearance, movements, location, or ideas are or could be watched by surveillance systems.[14] In the case of political electronic surveillance, individuals are threatened by the potential exercise of organized violence (of the law) if they behave in certain ways that are undesired, but watched by political actors (such as secret services or the police). In the case of economic electronic surveillance, individuals are threatened by the violence of the market that wants to force them to buy or produce certain commodities and help reproduce capitalist relations by gathering and using information on their economic behaviour with the help of electronic systems. In such forms of surveillance violence and heteronomy are the ultimo ratio. The following table discusses the role of surveillance at the various

‘information communication technologies further augment these tendencies by enabling locational surveillance of private behaviors through mobile phones, digital video recording systems and other household devices, and challenging the meaning of private property.’ [15]

Surveillance Objectives


There are many reasons why surveillance can be beneficial. The objectives of surveillance will vary from case to case, but are most often one or more of following:

  • Obtain information for a search or warrant.
  • Locate a subject, contraband, or the site of illegal activities.
  • Obtain intelligence about a subject, criminal group or location.
  • Prevent a crime from occurring through covert or overt surveillance.
  • Gather intelligence for a raid.
  • Provide protection for informants, undercover individuals or others.

Global Surveillance

A map showing internet censorship and surveillance by country.

Global surveillance refers to mass surveillance of entire populations across national borers. It's history can be retraced until the 1920s century, when the United Kingdom and the USA concluded an agreement. It was later expanded to New Zealand, Canada and Australia, to create the 'Five Eyes alliance'. They concluded several arrangements with 'third-party' nations. That also created a global surveillance network, called 'ECHELON'. Most of the people did not know it until the Edward Snowden affair came up.

Organizations for Surveillance


Surveillance system was originally designed for safety reasons and adopted by the authorities. That's why it is defined as "the few watch the many".[16] Thus the organisations used this system were government, police stations, banks, security companies of department stores, business buildings etc., in order to secure the safety of citizens and capital.

This surveillance system meets the safety needs of people for preventing and cracking down on criminals. Nevertheless, with the widespread use of surveillance technology, the possibility of personal information being collected, transmitted and used illegally reveals the threat of violating individual privacy and freedom. In this new medium era, not only the above-mentioned organisations, but also ordinary companies, private detectives, or even individual hackers have access to monitor people's basic information and daily activities through cameras and network database.

United States National Security Agency


In 2013, former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden began providing the international media with details about the agency's mass surveillance of American citizens and foreign countries. In order to avoid an effort by law enforcement to arrest him, Snowden flew to Russia, where he was granted official permission to reside. Snowden was formally charged with espionage and theft of government property in June 2013. Among the information leaked by Snowden to the media was evidence that the NSA collected internet activity information and phone data from billions of people in countries all over the world. In addition to collecting data on both American and foreign citizens, the NSA has collected information on foreign leaders and their colleagues. Based on the information provided by Snowden, it became clear that employees within the NSA and government officials endorsed the surveillance efforts with the understanding that it would aid in the goal of preventing terrorist attacks and help ensure global economic security. Nevertheless, critics of the NSA programs maintain that the United States government has used the issue of terrorism as a pretext to invade the personal lives of millions of people and put them under surveillance without their knowledge. While U.S. President Barack Obama reacted to the NSA controversy with assurances that the government does not exceed legal boundaries of privacy in its surveillance practices, the issue of government spying is likely to inform the debate about security and privacy well into the future.[17]

Youtube: Surveillance or Sousveillance?


When looking at the definitions of Surveillance and Sousveillance and thinking of them in relation to activity on Youtube there becomes a very interesting debate in how the lines of the terms can become blurred and can cross over. There are lots of different subsections to look at in terms of this topic. They include, but are not limited to, looking at vloggers and how they mainly fit into the category of sousveillance but can fit into surveillance. Various examples of Youtubers will be given and looked at. The pyramid of intention and power of society in relation to Surveillance and Sousveillance. A mini debate of tampering with footage from anywhere on the pyramid. There will also be an interesting case study of two Youtubers who have had suffered a copyright breach of content and have/still are fighting for their case to own said content. Finally, a link of surveillance and sousveillance to the lectures.

Surveillance or Sousveillance Platform?

YouTube has always been a great source for sousveillance to exist and thrive as its premise is for video content filmed by the public and then sharing the content to the wider world for various purposes. Over recent years YouTube has been developed and its format changed in a way to suit its users, allowing them to produce their own content and promote themselves to the world. The phrases that has been coined for them are Youtubers and vloggers. Vlogging means making a video log or diary of an event, but for Youtubers this means vlogging everything - including their daily life. By doing this they provide a sense of entertainment for the viewers as they feel connected to their lives and feel it to be more real than TV as they are depicting real lives that have not be altered or scripted. Most Youtubers also take on challenges, play video games or speak about pressing issues that come across as a real voice for the people. The format of YouTube allows the Youtubers to promote themselves or their lifestyles. As well as the entertainment and promotional side, there is also a financial side as Youtubers can be paid for their videos if enough people watch them. This means that technically if their videos are viewed enough the Youtuber can make a living that way, which most of the popular ones like PewDiePie does. They do not stop there though as some of them also make and sell their own merchandise - Rose and Rosie, ZackScottgames and some have also made their own books -Ashley Mardell, Tyler Oakley, Zoella. Some even breaking into main stream with a TV show - Epic Meal Time. YouTube is an excellent format for regular people to have their shot at fame, like Good Mythical Morning or PewDiePie, as some have made some real success and are known to many celebrities. Youtubers mostly fit into sousveillance as it fits in accordance to the definition given earlier on and how they are recording real life and the people and themselves are aware of the camera being there to record their lives. This is furthered by Youtubers like Rose and Rosie discussing how they film most of their lives so they have little moments caught on camera to remember. So sousveillance for them can be beneficial. The interest in how Youtubers come in to surveillance however comes particularly from prank videos where the general public are secretly filmed in order to scare them or reveal something about the way society reacts to certain situations. FouseyTube and Sam Pepper are two examples of Youtubers who make prank videos. The issue and blurring of boundaries between Sousveillance and Surveillance comes from the fact that by nature YouTube is sousveillance as the public have the camera and are aware of it. However, when the public or Youtubers turn on the rest of the general public in pranking them and to how they are unaware that they are being filmed, it begins to blur the lines of which category YouTube belongs in.

This idea is further made complex when the idea of intent and power is added to the equation. On a pyramid of power it can be argued the Government is on top, then the police and council, professionals/businesses/Youtubers below them and finally the general public at the bottom. This unique power dynamic shapes, in a way, the intentions of surveillance and sousveillance when thought in accordance to this pyramid. The Government will only use CCTV (full definition given below) as a surveillance tool to patrol the streets and keep the general public safe. It can be argued that their intention is not as pure and something along the lines of spying, but assuming that the intention is pure then the reason for their surveillance is in the public's best interest to exist. This is furthered by how people are employed specifically to watch the cameras and report any activity that may be illegal. So the footage is reliable and is not tampered with as it has a sole purpose to protect and comes from a supposedly reliable resource. However, there will be an injection made later that will be drawn to argue how footage can be tampered with from the Government. Next on the pyramid is the police and council and again their intention is pure and professional as it serves a purpose to protect the public. This can be debated with American Police vs British Police where the British police had to show them how to act accordingly with little violence because the American public were feeling threatened by their police force and its excessive use of fire arms. To a point where they feel that the recorded footage/dash cameras do not accurately record the truth which adds a dynamic to the reliable nature of surveillance and to how it can possibly be tampered with if the intention is to favor one person e.g. a cop over the perpetrator/victim. There have been several cases made like this and Huffington Post give various examples to look at and a campaign of black lives matter. But the surveillance by the police is supposed to be intentionally good as it would give the police evidence against the perpetrator in order to convict them in court. Below the police and council are professionals, businesses and Youtubers. The first two utilise cameras for surveillance of their businesses in order to keep them safe from intruders and to protect their assets. So the intention again is good as they only want to use the footage to keep themselves safe and it will mainly be not tampered with, but this is a little more hazy as this is the first section of the pyramid where surveillance may not be either mandatory or required but more for personal safety and piece of mind. Therefore, the intention can be harder to pin point but the footage should remain not tampered with as it would be in their best interest to do so for a court case for instance. The latter of this section however is more interesting in both intention and power. The intentions of Youtubers is mostly transparent but is never crystal clear leaving the intent unclear. Their main intentions would be either entertainment for (the bottom section of the pyramid) the general public, to inform them or to challenge certain concepts of society. This can seen through prank videos how they can either provide entertainment as a laugh for the viewer or to expose a dysfunction of society e.g. how unhelpful it can be to those in need. The power Youtubers have as well is interesting as although they are still real people and feel like that more than other celebrities, because we can access their more private lives, they still have a slight hierarchy over the general public. For instance, they can get away with making a prank video and making the public look idiotic, whereas no one else could. This is where the clash of surveillance and sousveillance comes in. Also linking to before where Youtubers can turn on the rest of the public and secretly film them is a demonstration of power and again adds to how the lines of surveillance and sousveillance can be blurred.

Earlier there was an idea of a debate arising from tampered and not tampered footage of Surveillance and Sousveillance which again links to intent. An example of this is the 'Anti-Tesco' incident in Stokes Croft. There, the media covered the riot outside Tesco as the citizens protested against the installation of the super market. It was later revealed on emerging YouTube videos that the riot was created by heavy-handed police officers, which supported the general public's initial claims.[18] On top of the pyramid there is the Government with CCTV footage which should be the most reliable and not tampered footage as its sole purpose for existing is the protect the general public. However, an opposition to this argument could be how the footage in certain cases can be tampered with in the removal of sections or only certain acts shown to a court in order to lead them to a certain conclusion. This of course is hypothetical and for argument's sake, but it adds an interesting dimension to surveillance and how it could potentially be used to convict the wrong person instead of protecting them. This can be linked back to intentions and power as the court will most likely favour the CCTV footage as they believe its intentions to be pure, even if they are not, as the highest power can appear more trustworthy. At the other end of the scale with Youtubers and sousveillance an interesting point also arises as of course the public are more aware of the tampering that can go on with their footage as it is for personal use and the intensions can be mixed. This can be seen with youtubers like Sam Pepper and FouseyTube as it has been argued they turn on the general public to secretly film them for different intensions like exposing parts of society but at the cost of the public. So their intentions can be unclear. However, YouTube and the public can be more reliable with their footage as some events are filmed by the public specifically to try and capture the truth in said events. Examples of this can link back to the black lives matter case where the American public have started to record attacks on civilians, even alongside the higher category of the police, as they believe that footage to be either tampered with or unreliable and theirs more reliable. In most cultures there is a rebellion against authority which would explain why the public could favor amateur footage over the ‘more reliable’ government CCTV. It is interesting to think how the public may actually favor this footage over the suppose ‘reliable’ footage. But this debate over surveillance and sousveillance with intent and reliability between the sections of the pyramid brings in an interesting dynamic to this overall section.

Sousveillance can and does have a darker side to it and in relation to the week 7 lecture there arises an interesting case study of two Youtubers, Bria and Chrissy, who are battling copyright issues in relation to revenge porn. When Chrissy was eighteen she was filmed without her knowledge having sex with an ex which was uploaded to certain sites as a form of revenge porn. Copyright issues come into play as although Chrissy did not give consent, nor recall the event taking place as he got her drunk, she still does not own the footage. The footage belongs to her ex-boyfriend as it was filmed on his camera. In regards to general laws of copyright in the UK, although they have been updated now, this cannot help Chrissy as they came in too late for her case. Her only hope is to sue her ex for the rights to the video in order to take it down from all websites. Her battle for the copyrights to the video is still going on to this day. There was a mini documentary made by The Guardian on it as well as Bria and Chrissy's vlogs. There is also a link to their page where it explains their story in full. This case study of the YouTube couple also relates to the section on intent, as Chrissy's ex had sinister intentions as he recorded her without her consent. This meant that the sousveillance was malicious and throws it to possible surveillance as Chrissy was not aware of being filmed. The ordeal for Chrissy also relates to the week 2 lecture of online identity as her reputation and online self has been altered for the worse with this one video. She has recalled that people who looked up to her as a role model, then when they discovered the video, they immediately changed their position. Her online identity which she has spent so long creating to be positive for young people was shattered with one horrendous video. This links to the topic at hand as although YouTube has been argued here as a way for positive sousveillance to exist prominently, it can also become negative with malicious content if the intentions are either bad or unclear.

Finally, surveillance and sousveillance of course link back to the lectures and YouTube as well can be linked back. In regards to the week 2 lecture of online identity there was a reading by Zizi A. Papacharissi [19] which introduces blogging (p. 144) and YouTube (p. 150). The book describes YouTube as a place where it “does not tell you what to do” (p. 150) and how it has “diversity of content featured, making mention of the “Many Tribes of Youtube” (p. 150). These ‘tribes’ can relate to potential LGBT Youtubers who may not get recognition anywhere else so YouTube allows them a space to create and sousveillance freely and peacefully. It continues “Youtube also provides an opportunity for expression different from conventional mobilization, expression of opinion, or protest... some simply evoke sarcasm, humor, or satire, which are equally important forms of political thought and expression” (p. 151). This links back to the idea of online identity as YouTube allows people to have their identity online or even their identity represented online by others which can create a strong sense of community as they feel connected to others like them. The idea of what makes YouTube such a good format also explains why sousveillance thrives as people can act and, in a sense, create what they like and this in turn is sousveillance as they record themselves doing the activities and are aware of the camera.

Surveillance can also be linked back to the week 4 lecture - always on as it discussed how we are always tethered to some form of technology with the idea of CCTV footage always looking at you and surveilling your actions. Evidence of this can be found under the section of Humanity Vs Surveillance where it is discussed how there are even apps anyone can purchase in order to surveil people with CCTV footage. But this constant surveillance of everyone creates ‘an online self’ which links back to week 2 as even though most people are not aware being recorded, it still is a platform where they are visible and showcases a side of them which could be used as evidence in court (which has been previously mentioned earlier on). Danah Boyd [20] discusses being always on “It’s no longer about on or off really. It’s about living in a world where being networked to people and information wherever and whenever you need it is just assumed.” (p. 71-72) boyd applies this to social media and phone technology but it can be applied to surveillance as the general public are aware of CCTV being around them, but it does not appear to phase them even though it is recording them/creating another part of said person's online profile.

In relation to the cognitive surplus week 8 lecture Sousveillance becomes very interesting as the lecture discussed how people have too much time on their hands due to manual labour not being an issue any longer as technology has taken over. The examples given were mainly gamers completing games under difficult circumstances. However, this can be related to sousveillance as it and platforms like YouTube would not exist without this surplus in time to allow them to say vlog their ‘daily life’ and other activities like challenges or videos commenting on society.

It is a good example in new medium era, which has the functions of both surveillance and sousveillance. Through all users sharing their videos online freely, important events happening everywhere can be transmitted to the world in seconds, whether the government wants to display them to the world or not. Through this channel, citizens from different countries have the opportunities to supervise the activities of the hierarchy, in other words, the many to watch the few. For instance, in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, a large quantity of pictures and videos were uploaded to the social media sites including Vine, Facebook, YouTube etc., which were a great help for police investigation.[21] On the other hand, however, with the chance of sousveillance, the few can also monitor the many through YouTube. There are companies analyzing user data from different social media sites including YouTube, such as SumAll, ThoughtBuzz and GraphDive. The most common purpose for collecting individual information is to support marketing and customer service activities with users' basic information, hobbies, contacts, geographical positions and so on.

Laws and Restrictions


As stated in the definition surveillance is observations conducted to gain information. Since companies and the government collect several data types, just as communication data and content of those communications, there have to be laws and restriction to control the use of surveillance to prevent the endangering of privacy. The house of lords constitution committee said:' The expansion in the use of surveillance represents one of the most significant changes in the life of the nation since the end of the Second World War. Mass surveillance has the potential to erode privacy.' [1] There is a code of practice, by the Secretary of State which provides guidelines on how to use surveillance camera systems in an appropriate way (Section 33 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012).

Surveillance Camera Code of Practice


The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice [22] provides guidelines to ensure that the surveillance technologies are used in an appropriate way, so that surveillance technologies can function as valuable tools in order to protect the people, but as well properties. The purpose of the code is to ensure that the people feel more safe and have the confidence that cameras are only installed and used in order to protect them. This code sets out guidelines, so that the usage of surveillance technologies is transparent and understandable. But the Code most only applies to surveillance technologies or cameras, that are operating in public places.



When talking about surveillance, the American government should be the first to bear the brunt, especially after September 11 attacks. In order to prevent further possible terrorist attacks, the American government issued the Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act which stipulates that personal information of the public on the Internet can be monitored under necessary conditions.[23] However, they are criticized by the United Nations for violating human rights and the rights of privacy. German Media Law is the first law in the world regulating the Internet, which states that personal data and information on the Internet should be protected.[24]

Each year since 1997, the US-based Electronic Privacy Information Center and the UK-based Privacy International have undertaken what has now become the most comprehensive survey of global privacy ever published. The Privacy and Human Rights Report (Privacy International 2007a) surveys developments in more than 75 countries, assessing the state of surveillance and privacy protection.

‘Privacy is a fundamental human right. It underpins human dignity and other values such as freedom of association and freedom of speech. It has become one of the most important human rights of the modern age.[25]

Hence in Europe information privacy is a basic human right supported by the EU Directive on Data Privacy (95/46/EC). Every member state should have a privacy protection law in place to enforce this directive. For example, in the UK there is the Data Protection Act 1998 (Information Commissioner's Office 1998). UK organisations that collect personal data must register with the government and take precautions against the misuse of data.

Laws for telephone companies


U.S and European courts have defined privacy rights as citizens entitlement to control information about themselves, and to take steps to protect personal information. For example, telephone companies are required to obtain customer permission to use or disclose personal information collected while providing services (Title 47 of the US Code of Federal Regulations, section 64.2005)[2], illegally intercepted electronic communications may be disclosed (Title 18, Section 2511 of the US Code)[3], and unauthorized access to user files online is prohibited (US Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986)[4]. These stipulations present a direct recognition of the vulnerability of personal information in post-industrial democracies. Still, from a legal perspective, they do not cover the entirety of personal information that may be gathered by a commercial sector.
European Union member countries abide by stricter regulations that protect consumer privacy, specified by the Directive on Data Protection of 1999 [5]. This privacy directive safeguards individual control over consumer data and requires that foreign trading partners adhere to the same level of equal protection [26]). While the transmission of personal information from EU member countries to outside countries without adequate privacy protection is prohibited, the nature of globalized business is such that it is possible for the EU to contractually agree to conduct business with global companies despite differences in privacy approaches (e.g. Lee, 2000). Unless these agreements prioritize personal privacy over legal protection, it is impossible to avoid potential misuses of data.[27]



There are a couple of restrictions that are imposed by the Data Protection Act 1998 to ensure that several requirements are satisfied in order to survey via CCTV.

These restrictions include the following aspects:

  1. Keep the film footage safe
  2. Do not release the material to third parties
  3. Only keep material as long as you need it
  4. Apply identification, that there are surveillance cameras operating.[28]

According to these restrictions, therefore video material can only be used as evidence if the CCTV is operating according to legal restrictions. If the CCTV operating system is installed to prevent crime the material can be kept by the operators as long as needed.

Draft Investigatory Powers Bill


The Draft Investigatory Powers Bill is examined by a joint committee of the Parliament of the UK. It will govern the oversight and the use of powerful bodies and agencies. It is based on three reviews, which suggest reforms, in order to oversee powerful bodies and agencies. Furthermore, they propose the introduction of a safeguard to guarantee the abidance.

There are three main important aspects, that the draft Bill will do:[29]

  1. It will unite all powers which are already allocated to law enforcement, the security and the Intelligence agency. It will obtain all the data about communications and make these powers clear and understandable.
  2. It will change the way how things are approved and observed and furthermore it will establish a kind of ‘double-lock’ for interception warrants, which give the permission to conduct surveillance, so that they can only come into force, when being approved by a judge. Therefore, it will establish a new Investigatory Powers Commissioner (IPC) to, who controls if the powers obey the law enforcements.
  3. It ensures that all powers will fit in the digital age and will provide the retention of ICRS which are records of the internet services that have been accessed by a device.[30]

'Investigatory Powers Tribunal'


There is a need for someone who controls whether the aspects of the Powers Bill are misused. There is an authority called Investigatory Powers Tribunal , which was established in 2000 and is an independent body from the government, to ensure that the public bodies act in a way that is compatible with the human rights act. People can submit complaints on their website, if they feel like they have been a victim to unlawful action, and the IPT will then check the specific complaint.[31]

Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014


Supported by all three major political parties in the UK, Parliament passed the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act in July 2014 to ensure the police and security services retained their existing powers to access telephone and internet records. No additional powers were granted by the legislation, but it did make clear that the requirements also apply to foreign companies, based abroad, whose telephone and internet services are used in the UK. The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act provides 'the powers to introduce secondary legislation to replace the Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009 (S.I. 2009/859) (“the 2009 Regulations”), while providing additional safeguards.' This Act is called into existence to ensure that companies who provide communication services within the United Kingdom are obliged to adjust with requests from the Secretary of state, concerning communication datas and interception warrants.[32] The components of this Act clarify and strengthen the already existent framework.

Protection of Freedoms Act 2012


The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 includes several provisions related to controlling or restricting the collection, storage, retention, and use of information in government databases.

  • It creates a new framework for police retention of fingerprints and DNA data
  • This law introduces a code of practice for surveillance camera systems but only provides it for judicial approval of surveillance activities by local authorities
  • It extends Freedom of Information rights by requiring databases to be available in are-usable format
  • Provides for a code of practice to cover officials' power of entry, with these powers being subject to review and repeal

The UK Data Protection Act (DPA) empowers you as the data subject with the right to know what is stored on you and by whom. The DPA includes the right for transparency. This means that you as a British citizen have the right to know what is stored about you, whether this is by government authorities or other organisations personal information that can be linked directly back to your identity. All you need to do is make a formal request to the data holding authority and as long as the parameters of your request are reasonable they have no choice but to fulfil it.[33]

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000


The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIP or RIPA) is a significant piece of legislation that granted and regulated the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation. Activities covered by the Act include the interception of the content of telephone, internet, and postal communications; collection of information about, but not the content of, telephone, Internet, and postal communications (type of communication, caller and called telephone numbers, Internet addresses, domain names, postal addresses, date, time, and duration); use of agents, informants, undercover officers; electronic surveillance of private buildings and vehicles; following people; and gaining access to encrypted data.

Telecommunications Act 1984


The Telecommunication Act is regulation of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to govern the following provisions:

  • Privatising British Telecom
  • To protect consumer's interests and market competition 'Oftel' was established as a telecommunications regulator
  • To introduce a licensing system to run a telecommunications or to make a connection to another system. Doing that without having a license becomes a criminal

The use of the Telecommunications Act 1984 for communications data collection, and the lack of oversight of this capability, was highlighted in the April 2014 report of the Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons on Counter-terrorism.

Humanity vs Surveillance


Humanity Argument


"A central political concern in debates about surveillance is whether the obsession with security and spread of new monitoring technologies are ushering in oppressive totalitarian societies akin to George Orwell's dystopic vision in 1984."[34] Surveillance cameras sit on every street corner, in every pub and on every mode of public transport. They are hard-wired into our cities and into the psyche of the public. It is said that in an urban area in the UK you are likely to be captured by about 30 surveillance camera systems as you go about your daily business – not cameras, systems! If you want to know that is probably around 300 cameras! According to estimates from the British Security Industry Association there are anywhere between 4 and 6 million surveillance cameras in the UK. Technology is moving at the speed of light and what was once just a bog standard CCTV camera is now a device capable of facial recognition or predicating behaviour. In the humanity versus surveillance argument who is really winning?

This constant supervision has brought on a standard of living that is likened to Big Brother,wherein an ordinary citizen living in the UK is aware that their every move is being tracked, much like the popular reality show. Not only is this in the everyday public sphere, the average person will have their internet activity monitored as well, even if they have no criminal record . Surveillance in itself is an invasion of privacy but the possibilities and cases of positive results are undeniable. Recorded footage can be in court cases such as with street crimes or even within the home, but it also encourages the increasing number of cameras that monitor every city, as an excuse. It also questions the ethical and moral judgement in the installation of cameras on an unaware subject in both the home and out.

Although - unlike big brother itself - the footage is not as easily accessible like watching big brother itself there is apps that give you live stream to watch anywhere in the world. Apps such as Surveillance App, Webcams Viewer, live Cams, ispy Cameras can help hack into surveillance and let you watch it. This links back to the idea of “Is surveillance really keeping us safe?” Clearly not if you can download an app that shows live footage from CCTV cameras. You could be spying on anyone including strangers who you would like to attack or steal from. Some apps such as Live Cams (which has 2980 live cameras available to watch) even allow you to view inside of colleges and universities although great for showing you an aspect of University life in real time- it is also very disturbing. Any one can view you doing anything. The worst of them all is being able to view Schools and parks. Although the intention could be just to watch your child to ensure that they are staying safe anyone could be watching. This gives open access to pedophiles and other disgusting fetish people ability to watch anywhere through their phone. There is no sense of security here anymore. If you have pure intentions you may be able to see this as an easy app to keep people safe however not everyone has pure intentions and that's the important factor to remember thinking of these apps going around. It can sometimes be a case of the public being at loggerheads with the idea of being 'spied' on, while simultaneously wanting to feel protected and safe from crime or danger in cities and towns. The general population is also weary about their face being recorded and filed away for future surveillance. It is easy accessible anyone to watch a CCTV camera online- all that needs to be done is a quick search on Google for almost 9.5 million results. This easiness and swiftness should be alarming to anyone who has ever been in a public area. It is not just for Government use, as if it was, it would not be so easily accessible. However, it is undeniable that surveillance, while intrusive and irritating, is a necessity for public safety and for damning evidence in criminal cases because it provides undeniably true footage of the actual event. It should also speed up the response from emergency services such as the police with the intention of stopping disruption or accident before it spirals out of control.

Is there really a pressing need for so many cameras? Society has always endured the constant watching eyes of surveillance because it has been drilled into us that it's for our safety. For how long can that argument stay relevant? If they choose to upgrade the systems so that they can do more than just watch, if they start to actually listen to peoples conversations and be able to store face recognition to watch out for you and focus on exactly what you do, is that really to do with our safety?

However you notice despite the increase on technology lately there has not been an upgrade to the CCTV systems – at least in a wide aspect. This could be because if they were upgraded people would notice them more. We are so use to passing simple CCTV cameras that we have become so unaware of their existence therefore creating a more natural reading of human behaviour. With between 4-6 million cameras across the UK alone in order to upgrade them all it would cost a bomb – something the government couldn't hide. This creates suspicion of maybe they are not going to upgrade them (not because of cost although that is also a server issue) but so that they can keep the public unaware of how often they are really being watched. This links back to the idea of are we actually being protected by the cameras? With some of them ranging between 15–20 years old and still running on analogue systems how can they protect us? Or an even better question might be with humanity versus surveillance: where is humanities voice?

This is not to say that all the CCTV cameras are outdated. In fact, in Scotland the CCTV system in Glasgow is one of the most sophisticated in the UK and can allegedly track individuals’ movements using an algorithm. The system is able to assign a unique signature to each person that walks past a camera, in real time, and then track their movements through the city – but how many people are actually aware of this happening to them? How are the general public meant to just stumble across this information? Is the real motivation for so many cameras to protect humanity or is it just a way to spy on us?

The best way to describe the constant surveillance is by “the big brother effect.” Although the footage is not as easily accessible like watching big brother itself there is apps that give you live stream to watch anywhere in the world. Apps such as Surveillance App, Webcams Viewer, live Cams, ispy Cameras can help hack into surveillance and let you watch it. This links back to the idea of “Is surveillance really keeping us safe?” Clearly not if you can download an app that shows live footage from CCTV cameras. You could be spying on anyone including strangers who you would like to attack or steal from. Some apps such as Live Cams (which has 2980 live cameras available to watch) even allow you to view inside of colleges and universities although great for showing you an aspect of University life in real time- it is also very disturbing. Any one can view you doing anything. The worst of them all is being able to view Schools and parks. Although the intention could be just to watch your child to ensure that they are staying safe anyone could be watching. This gives open access to pedophiles and other disgusting fetish people ability to watch anywhere through their phone. There is no sense of security here anymore. If you have pure intentions you may be able to see this as an easy app to keep people safe however not everyone has pure intentions and that's the important factor to remember thinking of these apps going around.

Finally– surveillance doesn't prevent crime. There is no robust evidence that cameras prevent crime. You even have a police and crime commissioner in Wales removing funding from CCTV because of this very fact. Take the awful events that took place in Paris in 2015. No amount of Surveillance could have predicted that these events would be going on or even stop them. Despite the huge amount of cameras amiable it is impossible for someone to be there able to watch everyone at once. Humanity does not need so many cameras, there is a fine line between being spied on and safety.[35]

Surveillance argument


However, despite the attack on surveillance it does have a purpose. Surveillance supports society. The public are behind it, in research done 84% felt that cameras provided a valuable purpose. The 16% minority of those against the surveillance only had issue over the fact that there was a lack of monitoring over such surveillance.It has been used to the publics advantage so well by helping arrest and provide evidence to put criminals away that people feel safer with it than if it was to disappear. So if there is so many people for surveillance why is there even a doubt to this argument? That is because you will never be able to ask everyone their personal opinion. It's impossible to go out there and see what every single person believes however the best chance you get is asking a majority of different types of people. You will always get the people however who claim that "Surveillance it is just the governments way of spying on us!!"

However this idea that it is just there to spy on you on your daily life is just delusional. Just as Santa is only real in children's minds - this is just a delusion made up in some of societies minds. A scaremongering tactic that makes you believe that the government has only bad intentions. In fact only 5% of CCTV cameras operated in England and Wales are operated by the police or local authorities. The idea that we are a surveillance state – one nation under CCTV could be argued to be a complete fallacy. A large portion of CCTV cameras come from general public using CCTV for their business to keep it SAFE. So how is there a difference between other peoples surveillance cameras and the police/governments?

Surveillance has been used to catch people who have convicted a murder or other serious crimes. It has been used to spot someone 10 minutes from a crime scene. Yes, a camera cannot prevent an act of random violence or crime but they can help identify and catch the perpetrators. Take the incident which lead to the proliferation of CCTV across the UK in the 1990s – the abduction of Jamie Bulger. I’m sure you will recall the grainy images of the toddler being led away from a Merseyside shopping centre by his two 10 year old killers. These images were replayed night after night on TV, becoming iconic. Whilst they did not prevent the horrific crime the images led to the belief that those who carried it out would be caught.[36]

For a more recent events in France with the Charlie Hebdo attack the use of CCTV images proved to be crucial in quickly assessing the situation and helping the police respond quicker to the situation. The cooperation between the police and other authorities was able to give key evidence from the CCTV that helped identifying the brothers who'd carried out the attack. The information that was quickly made available to the authorities made it possible for them to direct resources for the manhunt. Without the use of CCTV there would have been a slower response time and with that there would have been less chance to catch who done it. This shows that CCTV cannot be all that bad. For it to be able to help in an emergency situation like that it's clear that it has its pros - not only that but it shows that it is actually doing its job. Surveillance is not only just there for big crimes. Clearly it works for smaller crimes like stealing. If it didn't why would the general public who are business owners spend obey to install such cameras?

Finally, the last point will be on privacy. It has been argued that the surveillance cameras are extremely intrusive. I fully understand that if you believe that a camera is tracking you or peering into your garden or your home how unsettling that could feel. Think about however the surveillance cameras or those used by large corporations, most of which these organisations should have completed privacy impact assessments and their systems will have privacy by design built in. What is meant by the privacy design is that if a camera pans over or looks into a residential area the images are pixelated so the operator can't actually see into someone's house, garden or a school. By doing this you are keeping the general public safe by no spying on their private lives. There has also been talk of improving the anonymity of surveillance cameras that are to do with large businesses. What this means is that the things that is being filmed will show avatars rather than people – this completely anonymises the data being captured. Those images can then be unencrypted if there is an incident which therefore means that anyone who is not committing any crimes will kept anonymous and it will only be used if someone breaks the law.


In 1948, the UN General Assembly issued the first global and comprehensive document in human society - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It stipulated that the private lives, families, and communications of all people must not be intervened arbitrarily. In this regulation, all individual information is included in the right of privacy of citizens.[37]

The scope of surveillance system was restricted through this kind of laws and regulations. As the development of technology, however, the channel of public communication can display the privacy of every citizen. For example, personal conversation will be monitored by camera and recorders installed in corporations, supermarkets, banks, roads etc. Browsing history and habits will be transmitted to network providers. Smartphones will record people's daily lives publicly or secretly. The rapid development of surveillance systems, where both legal institutions and criminals have the opportunity to monitor others, violates humanity in a broad sense.



There is a huge debate between the two. It is all up to personal preference wether or not you can fully trust surveillance however there is great arguments for and against is. It is all down to the intentions of the user. You can see surveillance as being a bad thing when it is used for bad intentions however when it focuses on its true intentions of keeping the general public safe that then shows it in a good light and shows that we do need it to help keep everything in order and keep people safe.

Surveillance Technologies


Surveillance technologies are mainly divided into public cameras or CCTV - which will be discussed in detail further, and invisible camera - Internet. Regardless of whether it is in relation to visible cameras or invisible cameras, technologies are neutral essentially. It is the organizations which adopt these technologies that make them either beneficial or evil, thus restrictions are needed when using them.



The vast majority of computer surveillance involves the monitoring of data and traffic on the Internet. In the United States for example, under the Act Communications Assistance For Law Enforcement Act, all phone calls and broadband Internet traffic (emails, web traffic, instant messaging, etc.) are required to be available for unimpeded real-time monitoring by Federal law enforcement agencies.[38] There is far too much data on the Internet for human investigators to manually search through all of it. So automated Internet surveillance computers sift through the vast amount of intercepted Internet traffic and identify and report to human investigators traffic considered interesting by using certain "trigger" words or phrases, visiting certain types of web sites, or communicating via email or chat with suspicious individuals or groups. Billions of dollars per year are spent, by agencies such as the Information Awareness Office, NSA, and the FBI, to develop, purchase, implement, and operate systems such as Carnivore (FBI), NarusInsight, and ECHELON to intercept and analyze all of this data, and extract only the information which is useful to law enforcement and intelligence agencies.



Perhaps the most widely known and observed technology used for surveillance purposes is CCTV. CCTV stands for Closed Circit TV, and was invented in Germany, 1942. The technology has become globalised in many senses, and has been used widely across many countries, including the U.K.

In the case of CCTV, who has the right to install CCTV, and where and when they can install them should all be reported and restricted. As American critic Jennifer Granholm has said, it is unreasonable for citizens to expect not to be monitored by the public and police, while they have the right to require no surveillance towards their personal communications under high power remote monitor.[39] Additionally, with regards to invisible cameras or network database, Mark Poster proposed a new concept of "superpanopticon" explaining how personal lives are constructed in the digital world.[40] Data transmission in network databases is fast and convenient, which is even more accurate and exhaustive than CCTV. In this case, the laws and regulations stated the rights and obligations of network technologies should be proposed and imposed for sure.

Surveillance cameras or CCTV (are increasingly being used to monitor public and private spaces throughout the world. Governments and law-enforcement authorities, companies and private individuals use video surveillance for the prevention of crimes, the safety of urban environments and government buildings, traffic control, the monitoring of demonstrators and in the context of criminal investigations. Surveillance technologies have even been described as the ‘fifth utility’ [41] where CCTV is being integrated into the urban environment in much the same way as the electricity supply and the telephone network in the first half of the century.

CCTV might be considered the dominant powerhouse of all surveillance technologies due to the pure number of cameras that are in action. For example, in 2007, nearly ten years ago, it was estimated that the U.K had 4.2 million CCTV cameras.[42] CCTV has potenitally changed the act of surveillance entirely. Michel Foucault (1977) explains how in the past, the many watched the few (for example, those with political power) through events like public speeches. However, thanks to surveillance technologies like CCTV, the few can now watch the many! And thus he describes that 'visibility is a trap' [43] However, this is not a one-way relationship, as the 'many' still watch the few' through T.V and online media. However, CCTV is in the remit of the few and means that when in public, there is a high possibility of being recorded, often without that person's knowledge.

Britain has by far the most surveillance cameras in the world: about 1 for every 12 people or approximately 5 million in public and private hands.[44]

Example of CCTV in London, U.K.



Automatic number plate recognition cameras (ANPR), or licence plate recognition cameras (LPR) are one of the primary methods of vehicle surveillance. Placed along roads, particularly motorways, they serve to report speeding and other highway safety violations. They can also be used for processes such as automatic toll tax collection.[45] While a form of camera, they differ from CCTV in that their purpose is not to record visual data on what vehicles are doing, but to detect number plates and identify the characters, even from a distance or at speed. The software OCR is used to convert data from multiple captured images into usable code, and cameras must be sensitive to infrared light while restricted in terms of the visible spectrum in order to function both day and night, regardless of headlamp illumination and other obstacles.[46]



The official and unofficial tapping of telephone lines is widespread. Human agents are not required to monitor most calls. Speech-to-text software creates machine-readable text from intercepted audio, which is then processed by automated call-analysis programs, such as those developed by agencies such as the Information Awareness Office, or companies such as Verint, and Narus, which search for certain words or phrases, to decide whether to dedicate a human agent to the call.[47] Law enforcement and intelligence services in the United Kingdom and the United States possess technology to activate the microphones in cell phones remotely, by accessing phones' diagnostic or maintenance features in order to listen to conversations that take place near the person who holds the phone.[48] Mobile phones are also commonly used to collect location data. The geographical location of a mobile phone (and thus the person carrying it) can be determined easily even when the phone is not being used, using a technique known as multilateration to calculate the differences in time for a signal to travel from the cell phone to each of several cell towers near the owner of the phone. The Snowden leaks have also revealed that the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) can access information collected by the NSA on American citizens. Once the data has been collected, the GCHQ can hold on to it for up to two years. The deadline can be extended with the permission of a "senior UK official".

There are various different surveillance technologies that are effective and readily available to use in relation with telephones and mobile phones. Some of the most well known are the means of bugging, and tracking telephones and cellular devices.


Also known as a covert listening device, a bug or a wire, the listening devices usually consist of a small radio transmitter and a microphone. Mostly used in police investigations, the devices are still available for use by the public. The Daily Mail published an article warning people in relationships of their partners possibly spying on them with the use of bugging devices on their mobile phones.[49] With systems such as Flexispy, which advertise their spying software with the statement “If you’re in a committed relationship, responsible for a child or manage an employee, YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW.[50] Find out the truth, spy on their phone.” While in blatant breach of the Data Protection act, the system, along with many others are still popular and the penalty is only a fine. However, is it legal to use listening or recording equipment in public places, in offices and in your own home.

Tracking When it comes to tracking, the StingRay phone tracker is the most common. Developed by the Harris Corporation, the device is a cellular phone surveillance device. The device forces all nearby devices to connect to it, and from there can retrieve internal data, download data, and can intercept communication content, and can decrypt and record content. The StingRay can also track and locate devices it has connected to. The software was originally developed for the likes of the military and intelligence community, and while controversial, with blurred lines between protection and privacy issues, it is widely used across the US. The American Civil Liberties Union has identified at least 60 agencies across 23 states that own and use StingRay technology.[51] In the United Kingdom however, usage of the technology hasn't been confirmed. A BBC report on a Sky News investigation revealed the accusation that police have been setting up fake mobile towers across London.[52] These towers connect to mobile devices and reveal the location of the users. The report suggests that the devices could be used to track police suspects. Metropolitan police have neither denied nor confirmed the usage of this type of surveillance.


In the Netherlands all ISPs have to have the capability to intercept all traffic with a court order and maintain users’ logs for three months. In New Zealand the Telecommunications (Interception Capabilities) Act 2004 obliges telecommunications companies and ISPs to intercept phone calls and emails on the request of the police and security services. In Switzerland ISPs are required to take all necessary measures to allow for the interception of mail and telecommunications.

Social Media


Another part of information privacy that is not covered by any legal framework is the information that we are sharing when we go online. This raises a whole new connotation to the definition of ‘information exposure’ in the domain of information security when applied within the context of social networking. ‘Digital information residue’ is our personal information that has been collected or shared and digitally stored somewhere by someone or something in cyberspace and over which we have no control.

As long as there have been online communities, there has been social media as outlined in the Oxford Dictionary of Media Communications.[53] However, it is less easy to define who exactly is monitoring our profile on social media pages without them making direct contact. Some privacy settings are within our control such as the ‘custom’ setting on a post which allows us to see who is viewing the post; however, other people's tagging (until we have de-tagged ourselves) is out with our control and those few minutes are fraught with ‘oh no – who has already seen this?’ Graham Meikle and Sherman Young say: 'Think about the way Facebook publicizes our activities to everyone on our friends lists through the newsfeed function. You may think a particular comment that you make on a Friend's status is restricted from others whom might not want to see it, only to find her profile is open to everyone, and so your remark has been redistributed to every one of your friends as ‘Top News’.[54]:72

According to recruitment company Jobvite in their annual survey (latest September 2015) 92% of employers check social media pages before hiring.[55] Furthermore, with the rise of social media in a younger generation, there are stringent guidelines in place to ensure that teachers are not spied upon outside of class.[56]

It could be argued that both instances are examples of theorist Erving Goffman work who argues that we have a multicity of guises for different social situations, and we perform to our catered audience and while similar to the theatre, our real selves are backstage.[57]:306–7

Screenshot Sousveillance Online Dating and Infidelity

Screenshots used to be only something we could do by pressing Print Screen on a PC or laptop, but the ready availability of smartphones today means with one click they are becoming an increasingly common method to capture pictures and information to forward onto friends on a daily basis.

The social media dating app Tinder released plans to create a ‘share’ function for its users and potential mates.[58] The dating giant says that this will benefit users to share a profile of someone they have perhaps met as an acquaintance, and not close enough to add as a Facebook friend, of someone they were interested in but unsure of their availability. This naturally brings about concerns over privacy as a link can be emailed to the person's friend available for 48 hours or after five clicks.

Tinder argue that users already have the option to screenshot user profiles and send them to their friends and that users will have the opportunity to ‘opt’ out of the decision to share their details. However, with entertainment websites such as Buzzfeed and Distractify using profiles to create humour at the expense of unsuspecting users by compiling screenshots sent in by users who have captured quirky, dirty and downright odd conversations,[59] such measures bring little comfort to those on the receiving end. There are now whole accounts dedicated and encouraging users to send in Tinder Nightmares.[60] See also: Sousveillance and art?

However, screenshot surveillance can be used to an advantage in the case of Model Emily Sears,[61] who after being frustrated with the amount of men sending unsolicited pictures of their penis' she looked on their profile to find their family or girlfriends and threatened to forward them on. She found the men quickly apologised for their behaviour.

In her Buzzfeed interview[62] Ms Sears made a point of stating that the men believe they were secure behind their computers. This social behaviour is a termed online disinhibition, by theorist John Suler, as the feeling of freedom to do or say things in reality one would normally not be allowed to. If a man exposed himself on the street, he would be arrested yet somehow some men believe sending a picture of their penis is more socially acceptable.



Passport Services have exploited consumer information, and were pressured into revising their privacy policies and statements following a series of articles originating from Both Yahoo and Microsoft e- mail services reportedly divulged customer information in opposition to their stated privacy policies of not sharing personally identifiable information.[63] In February 2009, in response to user criticism about potential privacy violations, Facebook was forced to suspend its newly revised terms of service. Google privacy practices do not meet EU privacy standards and have been similarly criticized by several US policymakers Lawmaker questions Google over privacy practices
Companies employ privacy and terms of use statements to outline how personal information provided will be used, so that in the event of user complaints, companies are absolved of responsibility. In this manner, personal information is commercialized into the public realm, with little input from the individual in the process.[64]

There have been companies that have taken a firm stance against the NSA.In 2014, Social media giant Twitter filed a lawsuit against the US government in which it asked the ability to be transparent with information about the government's surveillance of Users. Ben lee, Twitters' vice president stated that the restrictions were a violation of the first amendment.Prior to twitters lawsuit, Google had filed a similar lawsuit that also requested permission to disclose to the public how often the company receives national security requests for data.[6]



According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, "Biometrics refers to the automatic identification or identity verification of living persons using their enduring physical or behavioural characteristics".[65] This kind of surveillance technology has been in use for many years with the commonly known fingerprint recognition and iris recognition. The popular social network Facebook uses a facial recognition software to 'tag' people in photographs posted on it. All of this can be considered surveillance, particular when the data formed from it is gathered and stored for government or commercial purposes. This kind of use of biometric data is well known, however, new uses are being explored constantly.

In America and China, facial recognition cameras are being placed on lamp posts around cities for the purpose of watching video that is tagged to individuals in real time, as well as dispersing large crowds that may gather for violent activity.[66] Only last year there was controversy over the cameras places around Download Festival by Leicestireshire police in order to scan the crowd for wanted criminals in Europe. It was the first use of that kind of technology in an outdoor venue in the UK and sparked outrage when it was brought to public attention.[67] At the same time EyeSee mannequins are being used in stores where they can track the age, race, and sex of retail customers in order to give companies marketing data; a form of corporate surveillance.[68] It may sound like the content of a science fiction movie but increasingly it is becoming a reality. Iconeme, for example, has its own mannequin system which uses beacon technology in smartphones to automatically alert customers to product details via an app.[69] It could be feasible in just a few years to walk into a store and have the mannequin call you by your name and then recommend products to you, simply by combining facial recognition software and customer databases. Of course none of this is done easily as Kelly Gates brings up in her book Our Biometric Future: Facial Recognition Technology and the Culture of Surveillance, however billions of dollars are being placed into the development and manufacture of it.

The U.S. at this time has no regulation on the use of biometric surveillance technology,[70] however the U.K. and Canada passed certain laws which would help limit invasive biometrics, such as the 'Snoop Bill' which would reduce the powers of the Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP).[71]

Peter Wagett says, "I've been working in biometrics for 20 years, and it's reaching a tipping point where it's going to be impossible not to understand where people are and what they are doing. Everything will be monitored."[69] To a certain extent this is already true but it will be interesting to see where biometrics goes next.


In Sweden almost every citizen born in 1975 or later has provided a blood sample at birth for the purpose of research. Function or mission creep has recently resulted in these blood samples being used for the conviction of a murderer in 2003 and for identification of victims from the Tsunami disaster in Thailand in 2004. All 27 EU countries agreed to unrestricted access to genetic information, fingerprints and car registration information in all EU police databases?. In New Zealand newborn blood spot samples and related information is collected and this data may be used by the police, but only as a last resort or with parental consent.[72]



Aerial surveillance is a type of surveillance that is usually conducted by computerised aerial engines. This form of surveillance comes with its own set of problems and boundaries which are often crossed. New technology has been building devices such as the drone, an aerial surveillance unit which operates on its own and sends surveillance images to the owner from a distance. The main issue of using these devices is the invasion of privacy, especially concerning the fact that many drones can be purchased and used without a licence in the UK. Drones under the weight of 20 kg do not require a special permit,[73] meaning that anyone can use these recording devices to 'spy' on whomever they wish. Those who own a drone must avoid flying it within 150 metres of a busy area and 50 metres of a person, but this rule is not strictly enforced.

Many people are weary of drones as the machines take on a new form of artificial intelligence. The electronic devices are able to use their computer vision to use facial recognition while adapting to their surroundings and possessing the ability to follow and document the movements of their target. Drones do not have the restrictions of that of a closed-circuit television, otherwise known as CCTV which, while able to record an individuals movement in public, cannot follow the individual or record from an aerial view. Drones with computer vision, face recognition, object recognition and other tracking technologies are fast becoming one of the most intrusive forms of surveillance. Drones can adapt to their environment and complete human like objectives such as following a subject and filming while they move through an area.

There has been some restrictions in aerial surveillance for the protection of the public and their right to privacy in their own home, and also for safety precautions, as the FAA rules which bans the use of drones flying above 400 ft or within two miles of an airport. In May 2015 a housing bill in the USA was introduced to restrict the use of aerial surveillance. The bill, christened the Protecting Individuals From Mass Aerial Surveillance Act, announced that that federal law enforcement officials now have to get a warrant if they want to conduct aerial surveillance inside the country. They also cannot identify people who are caught within the frame.[74]

As drones are a more recent form of surveillance, many people are not sure of the dangers or benefits that the technology has, but there has been a rising number of officials who want to rise the regulations and rules for owning an aerial surveillance system. Robert Knowles was convicted in 2014 for using a drone in a seemingly dangerous way, after he lost control of the machine near a nuclear submarine facility. He was ordered to pay £4,300 by the Civil Aviation Authority.[75] BBC news have released an article which states where someone can and cannot use a drone, as many are being received as Christmas and birthday presents.[76] Drones are the new 'it' toy of surveillance technology, but the repercussions from ignoring the guidelines can be hazardous, with another case of misuse in Manchester, where a man was arrested for flying a drone over Manchester City's home game with Tottenham Hotspur.[77] Drones are seen as fun, harmless toys for many, but this highly advanced form of aerial surveillance can be dangerous and morally questionable in regards to a right to privacy and anonymity. If CCTV is warned as being too intrusive on privacy, the drone by comparison is much more invasive, with more advanced technology and a bigger scope for gathering information.

Data Mining and Profiling


Data mining and profiling is surveillance of data, using a pattern based variant and searching through data mines to scrutinise individual activity. Data mining and profiling is used to gather information about an individual in order to generate a profile and find patterns of the individuals internet activity. This can be used to make prognostications about behaviour, and thus be able to determine behaviour both online and offline. Technological advances in software make for an even more detailed analytical approach, with online transactions being surveyed and noted.

Widespread information about individuals is used by private organisations with the intention of following the internet activities of a range of people. This is used to build a consumer profile for the individual. Some call these companies "third parties," as they are directly entrusted with personal or business information as a means of furthering their customers' transactions." For another set of corporate players, however, the collection and sale of personal information is their business, not just a by product of the exchange of goods and services.[78]

The tracking and noting of data by companies create a risk for the privacy of the target. Additional privacy issues arise when the government obtains this information, which it currently can without any legal consequences.[79] This creates a power struggle between the profile and the profiler, or the prey and the hunter. With the tracking of a person's personal life comes into question the legitimacy or even necessity of passwords and such. It seems obsolete that one requires a passcode to enter their own email, while a data miner has access to anything they think is necessary for the complete picture of an individual. It is ironic the difficulty in accessing a site such as Gmail when the password is forgotten- a mothers maiden name or a childhood pet must be remembered while a separate company or profiler is able to have their ignorance overlooked in order to collect the identity of someone. Studies have shown that data mining has been used as a strategy by intelligence and law enforcement agents when combating terrorism. This was introduced when investigations do not reveal enough about the behaviour and intentions of terrorists who tend to purposely blend in society. To identify, isolate and prevent terrorist activity, intelligence agencies have begun collecting, retaining, and analysing huge and mostly useless transactional information about the daily activities of hundreds of millions of people.[78]

Data profiling and mining is used in the world of surveillance to dig beneath the surface of what the naked eye can see and turn banal activity into a user pattern. Using data that is considered meaningless can be vital for a profiler who can build their data from online transactions and such to create a clearer image of an individual. It is not the accuracy of the practice which is often questioned, but the ethical malpractice which is part of the strategy. Private information is a hot commodity for large companies but data mining and profiling is generally just sifting through the everyday activities of an ordinary person and this type of surveillance is questionable in its necessity.

Human Operatives


Are agents such as we see in spy thrillers a tool of surveillance? It can be argued that yes they are. According to [ MI5]'s website "Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS), or “agents”, are people who can provide intelligence that assists our investigations".[80] These agents are often misrepresented in fictitious works for the purpose of drama, but the base of such stories remains the same.

Possibly the best known Security agency in the world is the C.I.A. or Central Intelligence Agency, a branch of the United States security forces. Surprisingly intelligence activities in the U.S. have only been carried out on a government-wide basis since World War II.,[81] while in the U.K, MI6 and MI5 have been established since 1909 when they were known as the Secret Service Bureau.[82] The most active period of use of these security services, and the most replicated era in popular culture must be the Cold War. During this time surveillance of foreign government's was essential to the avoidance of a nuclear war.

All of this is in relation to operations dealing with foreign interest, however there are also agencies set up for the surveillance of the domestic population through human operatives also. The largest homeland counter-terrorism organisation is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Almost every country in the world has its own homeland security service where agents are tasked with monitoring the population for possible terrorist risks.

Human operatives are their own form of surveillance technology, possibly the oldest in the world and the most universally recognised. For more information on the role of agents in the U.K., the Today programme on BBC's Radio 4 recently interviewed an anonymous agent about their experiences of working with MI5 [7].

D.N.A. Profiling

A DNA profiling test

Several countries are building nationwide DNA databases for medical research driven principally by pharmaceutical companies and other business enterprises hoping to profit from new medical procedures and services. Medical research is the driver in Sweden whereby almost every citizen born in 1975 or later has provided a blood sample at birth (PKUlaboratoriet 2008). The sample is used to test for a genetic disease Phenyle–Ketone–Uria (PKU). It is also saved for future medical research in a database. The database does not contain any DNA profiles, but the blood samples can easily be analysed. There is also identity data provided with each sample. The database is not intended for use in criminal investigation. However, in the high-profile case of the murder of Anna Lindh (the Swedish secretary of foreign affairs) the police obtained temporary access to the database which was used to identify the murderer.

Satellite Imagery


On May 25, 2007 the U.S. Director of National Intelligence John Michael McConnell authorized the National Applications Office of the Department of Homeland Security to allow local, state, and domestic Federal agencies to access imagery from military intelligence Reconnaissance satellites and Reconnaissance aircraft sensors which can now be used to observe the activities of U.S. citizens. The satellites and aircraft sensors will be able to penetrate cloud cover, detect chemical traces, and identify objects in buildings and "underground bunkers", and will provide real-time video at much higher resolutions than the still-images produced by programs such as Google Earth.[83][84][85][86][87][88]

Identification and credential

A card containing an identification number

One of the simplest forms of identification is the carrying of credentials. Some nations have an Identity document system to aid identification, whilst others are considering it but face public opposition. Other documents, such as passports, driver's licenses, library cards, banking or credit cards are also used to verify identity. If the form of the identity card is "machine-readable", usually using an encoded magnetic stripe or identification number, it corroborates the subject's identifying data. In this case it may create an electronic trail when it is checked and scanned, which can be used in profiling, as mentioned above.

Geological devices


In the U.S., police have planted hidden tracking devices in people's vehicles to monitor their movements, without a warrant. In early 2009, they were arguing in court that they have the right to do this.[89] Several cities are running pilot projects to require parolees to wear GPS devices to track their movements when they get out of prison.[90]

Human microchip

Chip implantation

In recent years, critical thinkers and skeptics have become highly critical of a potential surveillance method: the use of micro-chips to track citizens' movement. While many commercial products are already equipped with micro-chips to prevent theft, these chips can potentially be used for other purposes, too. By now it has become a matter of fact that new American passports are issued with an RFID chip that contains personal information. These chips can be identified within a radius of ten meters. However, similar chips have already been implanted in humans also. A few clubs and discothèques have spearheaded this use by injecting micro-chips into the arms of regular customers in order to provide them with easier access and an electronic tab that does away with the need to carry money or credit cards. Ironically, it follows that surveillance can be used not only as an implicit and secret form of control, but has been accepted in business circles as a way to provide explicit 360° feedback. This type of feedback involves the evaluation of managerial performance through auditing the entire organizational context. However, this process can give rise to micro-politics within an organization and invite denunciations and blackmail. It has been argued that this is the perfect form of discipline in that it makes the subject of disciplinary power feel welcome and invite discipline openly. Similarly, skeptics fear that we are willingly creating the transparent human or the "Man of Glass" by laying bare every personal detail and making these details subject to control by outside forces.[91]

Postal services


With the rise of text messaging, Instant messaging and email, it could be argued that the postal letter is becoming obsolete for the younger generation. In 2015, the UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported that research by the National Literacy Trust revealed that only one in six teenagers still write letters and they believe that living a technologically advanced world is the reason behind the decline of letter writing.[92]

For those of us who do send and receive letters, and aren’t at her majesty's pleasure[93] even if it's just the odd Christmas or thank you card, we always assume our information is private; however, the United Kingdom has experienced a fluctuating relationship with postal and communication privacy rights.

According to Media Blog INFORM (International Forum Of Responsible Media Forum) [94] from the 17th to the 20th century letters could only be opened in transit by the authorisation of a warrant but the form of the warrant would be at the discretion of government powers but they did not publicly advise that interception was taking place. Furthermore, any scandals would have been dealt with in secret.

The silence of this practice remained until 1979 when it was revealed that the local police had been recording an antique dealer's telephone and when the UK courts dismissed the courts, the plaintiff took the case to the European Court of Human Rights where it was revealed that the UK government were in violation of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights entitling a UK individual the right to a quiet life. The only loop hole being in order to ensure political stability.

This led to the creation of the Interception of Communications Act 1985 ordered by the courts and was later replaced by Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. See also: Laws and Restrictions

The privacy of postal law in the USA only took place in the 19th century. John Durham Peters states that before stamps, sealed envelopes and post boxes, letters could be opened, read out and even published in the local press.[95]

Graham Meikle and Sherman Young[54]:72–3 make the connection between the evolved privacy conformity in letter writing and that in today's social media outlets, there has been no call to define what is private and what is not. They say ‘It is not unusual to send someone a message in this way only then to have them reply by writing on the ‘wall’ area of your page thus opening up the conversation to what may be a much wider audience, depending on what privacy settings are applied to the wall in question’.[54]:74



A particular form of surveillance technology is that which is consumer accessible via application stores such as Google Play and iTunes. There are many different ways in which this technology is marketed; for companies in order to track employees' internet usage at the workplace, advertised to parents for monitoring their children's communications via their phone and those sold for the purpose of investigating a spouse's activities. Of course, the basic software is essentially the same and is downloadable to any computer or phone with an internet connection. This section will look particularly at these applications and how they function.

An interesting starting point may be an article by the Huffington Post on five different applications sold to parents for "spying" on their children. This highlights the main selling points of these products, from one's ability to view what their children text to knowing the speed of the vehicle they are travelling in. The websites for these products themselves mention similar points, as well as speaking of slacking employees and cheating spouses.[96] According to Top Tracking Apps 'Mspy' is the "top used cell phone tracking app worldwide", therefore it is valuable to look at the way in which it functions and what the company have to say on the matter.

Mobile tracking software

Mspy on its homepage has a section entitled 'How it Works' where they state "Our software works by tracking all activity in the background of the monitored phone including GPS location, web history, images, videos, emails, SMS, Skype, WhatsApp, keystrokes and much more." It's features include - managing calls, tracking text messages and GPS locations, accessing calender and address books, and controlling apps and programs to name a few. It is compatible with iOS, Android, Windows and Mac OS.[97] There may be questions of legality here, as it is civilian surveillance software, however their site explains "its usage is absolutely legal" as long as it is used to monitor under-age children, employees who are aware they are being tracked, or used in the buyer's own phone. However, the software is available to download onto a device remotely so it is very easy for users to make use of it illegally. On similar sites such as Spy Bubble, the question of legality is even more questionable as it is advertised to be used on a partner's device and the subject of authorization is not addressed. There are many articles online discussing the legal and ethical issues outlined here.[98]

The use of such applications may remain controversial, however they are only becoming more popular worldwide as time goes on as an everyday surveillance technology.

Power politics of a Networked culture


Technology and everything else that has mass appeal should always be critiqued in relation to power relations. It is naïve to not be critical or highlight the advantages that a networked society grants to powerful governments in the world. A world where the seamless access to technology allow for seamless watching of our everyday lives. Who is watching us? Who watches those that watch us? These are the questions we have to ask in order to remain critical and active participants in this technological age.

Edward Snowden

Political sociologist, Larry Diamond has a positive perspective on 'always on culture' in that it has allowed for easier access to technology and information. Diamond believes that cheap video cameras and internet enabled mobile phones that can record video have put the 'power' back in the hands of civilians, allowing the people to become surveillants themselves and flattening the traditional hierarchy of surveillance. He argues that the devices we hold in our hands allow us to document the activity of public and corporate officials, therefore allowing civilians the ability to hold powerful officials accountable at any given time of the day; the ability to watch the authorities from below.[99] The concept of a society that has the power to become the fourth estate and hold power symbols accountable through our access and use of technology can be seen in 80's show COPS [8]. A show that exposed the day-to-day operations of American police officers as they apprehended offenders using force and sometimes brutal tactics. The show was revolutionary in that it put agents of power who had been comfortably operating in the dark without anyone to question their actions, and were suddenly brought into the light for the general public to critique.

Ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden, however, showcased how sometimes the most invasive surveillance occurs when we do not know it is happening or even exists. When no one can be held accountable because the public is unaware. The times when political power and mounds of laws that no one reads, allows power agents the access to personal files. The NSA was collecting the telephone records of thousands of unassuming Americans. A process that was enabled by a secret court order commanding telecommunications company Verizon to hand over telephone data on a daily basis. The NSA also managed to tap into the server of every major internet firm in a surveillance programme called PRISM. Britain was also exposed for obtaining information from the 'Prism' programme. Edward Snowden who was responsible for the leak, was charged in the US for theft of Government property and remains in exile and yet all he did was hold power accountable.[9]

Edward Snowden and organisations like Wikileaks have illustrated the extent of mass surveillance. Snowden has had to flee the US and Julian Assange to the Ecuadorian embassy to prevent, what he claims as, attempts of extraordinary rendition to the US. It may be much easier to organise online in terms of accessibility, but if the public is under constant surveillance it becomes difficult to argue that they are truly empowered by their devices, if these are what allows such invasions of their privacy.

The News Of the world phone hacking scandal is another example of how those in power can abuse surveillance features in a society that is dependent on technology.The story began in 2006 when Clive Goodman, the then News of the World royal editor, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator were convicted of intercepting voicemail messages left for royal aides and were as a result jailed.Following that revelation investigations began and more hacking stories surfaced. However, the critical political moment in the scandal came when the Guardian newspaper reported that the newspaper had hacked the mobile phone belonging to murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.Rupert Murdoch closed the paper down and court proceedeings began.Allegedly, targets included politicians, celebrities, actors, sports people, relatives of dead UK soldiers and people who were caught up in the 7/7 London bombings.

In a society with networked culture, immateriality is the most distinctive characteristics, since all information are transmitted in digital form. Besides, the distance in time and space is also eliminated owing to the Internet. What's more, equality is also one of the characteristics of networked culture, since all citizens can read and post their opinions online. For power politics, the above-mentioned characteristics of Internet can help to transmit political information in time in order to gain the support from the public to the largest extent. Networked newspaper, broadcasts, televisions etc. can provide a large quantity of information to the public, so as to shape the correct orientation for public opinions. In countries like the People's Republic of China, this has led to widespread censorship online. The great firewall of China[100] has meant the internet only accesses government approved content, and searches are filtered for certain words that can result in criminal charge and imprisonment. Artist and critic of the PRC Ai Weiwei has criticised surveillance programmes by the NSA for behaving like China[101] and calls for the need for democratic accountability in government surveillance.

Ethical concerns


Surveillance should never intrude on the subject's reasonable expectation of privacy. Although private security and surveillance operatives are not police officers with the primary concern over search and seizure protections, if there is a violation of a subject's rights through unreasonable means, there will likely be civil liability.

It is a known fact that when using for example digital devices, software and applications – a use that tends to be massive on a daily basis - people agree to terms and conditions without even reading them. Apps then not only collect significantly sized data banks on the users, but institutions (like the government) themselves access personal data from the profiles and conversations (exchange of information between users), filtering these for matters that are said to be of security. It is difficult to acquire precise data on these events and although, from what the public is given knowledge of, not every government controls as closely everything, when it happens it is a clear example of surveillance. In situations of this kind it is very debated whether there could be a ‘positive’ use of surveillance for safety reasons that is in the best interest of the community or it is a case of privacy infringement and control over the population. Arguments arising as well, on a more general level of the internet as a whole, from the fact that digital labour has a good exploitation potential. Where by using some apps and pages, for example, we users are benefitting someone else more than ourselves, and where labour is extremely cheap in systems like a Mechanical Turk while it pays and therefore benefits the requester of the HIT. Not to forget the value data in itself has, allowing systems/corporations like Google and Amazon to become megastructures, databanks with significant relevance, as if a virtual empire that could challenge more physical ones (for example oil companies and car factories). Databanks built on the ‘consent’ (often though unaware) of the user.

Although the digital world as a whole allows for examples (occasionally making for good news stories) of shady situations, infringements, abuse and situations of ethical concern, these can be found even taking a sample section of it like social platforms. Facebook being a popular one, it has been topic of concern in the past, being able for example to run "experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks" without the users even being aware of it until later on. Underlining once again the fragility of the user and an exposure that allows relatively easy manipulation, there are ethical issues within the working of it and its extension apps.

One interesting case study might be the ethical concerns regarding Facebook's app Messenger. Many of Messenger's users are unaware of just how many permissions they have given the app when agreeing to use it. There is an argument surrounding the fact of whether this should be considered a privacy issue or not.

Some of the more surprising permissions include but are not limited to: modifying your contacts, reading your text messages, sending text messages, directly call phone numbers, read call log, read the contents of your USB storage, take pictures and video, record audio and video.[102] Some of these permissions woud seem surprising considering this app is mainly used just to send messages and pictures.

The ethical concern here is that many users are unaware of these permissions and thus there may be a fear that app developers may take advantage of this to data mine, or in extreme cases, spy. There are also concerns for the future here, for example - "If this many people have not checked the permission groups that apply to Facebook Messenger... how emboldened will mobile developers be in the future?".[103]

Facebook did respond to this ethical panic. For example, in relation to the concerns regarding camera, it was stated - "If you want to send a selfie to a friend, the app needs permission to turn on your phone's camera and capture that photo. We don't turn on your camera or microphone when you aren't using the app.".[104] However, this has not ended speculation entirely, for the response did not contain a full breakdown of all the permission justifications. Perhaps Facebook is now also seen as a 'big brother' too and there is a level of distrust.

However, slowly people have come to realise how Facebook uses these permissions. With reference to the contacts permission, another justification is that "The app needs you to allow it to have control over messages to allow you to confirm your phone number via a confirmation code".[105]

This might quash some of the ethical debate about the app, but what is true is that Facebook does use the app to target specific ads to you, however most of this data collection is in-app. This raises a complex question: should sending ads based on your interests be considered a breach of privacy? Largely, the answer to this question changes from person to person.

Ethical issues, the principle of informed consent and the exposure of identity online are in fact part of a broad topic and can be tackled from different perspectives, from an individual's status updates to academic publications like Rafael Capurro and Christoph Pingel's paper. From censorship in the printing era to a more actual situation regarding online trust, it is brought to attention the tension between surveillance and freedom, which constitutes the basic ethical challenge, in the creation of a collaborative atmosphere and mutual support of the digital community.

For and Against Surveillance


Supporters argue surveillance can reduce crime by three means: by deterrence, by observation, and by reconstruction. Surveillance can deter by increasing the chance of being caught, and by revealing the Modus operandi. This requires a minimal level of invasiveness. Surveillance can give human operatives a tactical advantage through improved situational awareness, or through the use of automated processes, i.e. video analytics. Surveillance can help reconstruct an incident and prove guilt through the availability of footage for forensics experts. Surveillance can also influence subjective security if surveillance resources are visible or if the consequences of surveillance can be felt.

  • Supporters simply believe that there is nothing that can be done about it, and that people must become accustomed to having no privacy.
  • common argument is: "nothing to hide argument, if you aren't doing something wrong then you don't have anything to fear".

On the other hand, many civil rights and privacy, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union, have expressed concern that by allowing continual increases in government surveillance of citizens we will end up in a mass surveillance society, with extremely limited, or non-existent political and/or personal freedoms.

  • Some critics state that the claim made by supporters should be modified to read: "As long as we do what we're told, we have nothing to fear".

If there is an argument that we should be limiting digital surveillance, this would necessitate a cutback on the use of platforms like social media. However, if "today's social media has taught us anything about ourselves as a specieis it is that the human impulse to share trumps the human impulse for privacy." [106] This would then suggest that humans value the act of sharing over privacy, so the increase of surveillance is thus unsurprising for there is more available to be watched.

Surveillance in the UK


For more information on Surveillance in the UK, please, visit Mass surveillance in the UK

In the United Kingdom the use of surveillance in digital form increased because of pioneering during the Second World War. In the 1950 and 1960 there was build the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) which participated in programmes such as the Five Eyes collaboration of English-speaking nations. The purpose was to intercept in electronic communications, which increased a lot over time.

Nowadays, surveillance of electronic communications in the United Kingdom is controlled by laws made in the UK Parliament. In particular, access to the content of private messages (that is, interception of a communication such as an email or telephone call) must be authorised by a warrant signed by a Secretary of State. In addition European Union data privacy law applies in UK law. The law provides for governance and safeguards over the use of electronic surveillance.

  • In George Orwell's prolific Nineteen Eighty-Four, a lack of privacy is a major running theme throughout the novel. Telescreens that record both audio and video are installed in many of the characters’ homes, businesses, and in public places in order to keep tabs on them. Private citizens are encouraged to report on their neighbours, and the Thought Police are undercover officers in charge of uncovering ‘thought crime’.[107] The themes of surveillance in the novel have had a huge cultural impact, including the use of the phrase 'Big Brother', and the television program of the same name. There is a definite fear associated with surveillance in popular culture and 1984 illustrates this very well - "There was of course no way of knowing whether you were watched at any given moment" [108] Further on from this, Orwell addresses the idea of surveillance coexisting with the hunger and drive for Government power. This raises an important point about the negative implications of surveillance being used as a way of control, which is evident in modern society today through the use of CCTV and the increasing amount of surveillance being introduced today. As Orwell states in his novel "“Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.” [109] This demonstrates that the use of surveillance is not to keep society safe, but it is to control them.
  • The show COPS in the 80's was a hit as it showed surveillance footage of American police officers using force on multiple occasions to reinforce the law on offenders. The show unmasked the seemingly untainted image of the American police officer.
  • Many ‘fly-on-the-wall’ reality TV shows employ the method of mounting cameras in a setting and observing the subjects actions without them acknowledging they are being watched. This can be done with the subjects’ knowledge, in show such as I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, or the camera can be concealed and consent only given afterwards in shows such as Punk'd. This second type tends to use members of the public.
  • In the 2013 film Under the Skin, there is a series of scenes in which Scarlett Johansson's character, an alien attempting to abduct people, drives around picking up strangers in a van. These strangers were not played by actors, but members of the public unaware they were about to take part in feature film, with a series of hidden cameras in the van recording the scenes [110]
  • Gogglebox, An interaction programme that showcases everyday people watching tv.The viewer watching the viewer as they watch television.
  • Paparazzi is a recurring issue in popular culture. It is an invasive form of surveillance that essentially harasses celebrities to get photos and videos of them when they are caught off guard. This becomes problematic as this kind of surveillance goes against ethical codes of conduct, as this sort of invasive practice has not been consented.
  • The short story The Minority Report by Phillip K. Dick, and the subsequent film, video game, and Fox television series, depict a world in which people can be arrested for crimes they have not yet committed. In the film adaptation, the protagonist must undergo a risky eye transplant surgery in order to avoid the city-wide optical recognition system.
  • In the final season of Parks and Recreation, Leslie battles a data-mining tech company that are gathering information on the citizens of Pawnee.[111][112]




A wearable necklace camera

Sousveillance means "watching from below and its etymology derives from replacing 'sur' (over) with 'sous', which means 'under' or 'below' or 'from below'.[113] So the term itself suggests that sousveillance is an opposite to surveillance with the act of watching being the only constant between the two.

Sousveillance is the recording of an activity by a participant in the activity, typically by way of small wearable or portable personal technologies. Sousveillance is defined as cameras (or other sensors) borne by people.[114][115][116][117] Sousveillance is the veillance of plurality (i.e. "crowd veillance" or watching, sensing, or the like, done by non-authorities).

Your Dictionary defines Sousveillance as "the recording of the environment from a person's vantage point in the course of everyday activities.".[118]

An example of using Sousveillance in everyday life – which is popular within social media platforms – is where a person takes a photo or recording of a higher authority breaking the law. For example, a police officer fully dressed in uniform but using their phone while driving or a court judge parking on double yellow lines. These maybe just minor examples however when you see something along these lines it is actually using Sousveillance.

Steve Mann

Steve Mann with Generation-4 Glass 1999

A key figure in the field of sousveillance is the person who coined its term Steve Mann, a professor at the University of Toronto. The practice of sousveillence has been enacted in real life for some years now by him, who claims to be the world's first cyborg. Mann has been living with a computer attached on his head for the past 35 years making his life a testament to sousveillance practice.Steve Mann hopes to be a social reformist who will indulge others into adopting the use of wearable technology. Throughout his lifetime Mann has been using his EyeTap to filter out advertising banners on the streets. He believes that people should be free to choose what to see and that today's societies are bombarded by enticing sound and imagery that nudge them to purchase products and services uncontrollably.[119]

Main ideas on Sousveillance


Mann offers two main definitions of sousveillance, which are approximately equivalent, but each capture slightly different aspects of sousveillance:

  1. Inverse surveillance: to watch from below;
  2. Personal experience capture: recording of an activity by a participant in the activity. There is already a certain legal precedent for audio sousveillance, e.g. “one-party” recording of telephone conversations enjoys greater legal protection than recording by a person who is not a party to the conversation. In most states, audio surveillance is illegal, but audio sousveillance is legal.

According to Steve Mann, there are two kinds of sousveillance: inband sousveillance (e.g. arising from within the organization) and out-of-band sousveillance (often unwelcome by the organization).

Examples of inband sousveillance (“subveillance”) include:

  • the 1-800 numbers on the back of trucks so other drivers can report “how am I driving”;[120]
  • feedback on a professor's perform by his or her students;
  • satisfactory questionnaires given to shoppers by management,

wherein “subveillance” is subversive, in the sense of “turning the tables” on surveillance from within the organization, (“subversive” literally meaning “to turn from beneath”, working secretly from within an organization).

Examples of out-of-band sousveillance include:

  • taxicab passengers documenting the driver's (illegal) driving habits;
  • customers photographing unsafe fire exits in department stores and reporting them to the authorities;
  • citizens videotaping police brutality and sending copies to media institutions.

McDonald's Attack


On 1 July 2012 Steve Mann was physically assaulted by McDonald's employees while on holiday in Paris with his family. The cause of the attack was that Mann was filming the inside of the restaurant and the menu with the EyeTap technology mounted on his head. Although Mann had no intention of proving a point here his case is now known as the first cybernetic hate crime showing clearly what happens when the lines between surveillance and sousveillance are blurred.[121] Mann was denied access to the venue while being filmed by its surveillance system because he was filming it back. At the result of the attack Mann's six-year-old daughter draw a sketch describing the power dynamics of the two terms.

Sourveillance and Sousveillance in a Cartesian co-ordinates diagram

The McDonalds incident coined a new term called McVeillance that Mann later put in a diagram shown right to explain the different directions societies maintain towards the act of veillance.

The three groups

Julian Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks

Societies through history have been split into three groups according to their approach to surveillance based on the ratio of surveillance to sousveillance (Mann and Ferenbok).[122] The first type of state allows for people to watch over the state to the same degree they are surveilled by it. These states allow their people to interfere with politics via Social Networking, political forums and transmission of information to encourage political discussion and reform. Current democratic states in North America and Europe provide the appropriate ideological framework where such conditions of sousveillance are acceptable. Although people are free to act as they wish the laws existing in countries like these are such that protect sensitive information and data that belong to government and corporate organisations. Therefore, when individuals are trying to obtain such information or leak it to the public are prosecuted. These were the cases of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden when they both leaked classified information to the WikiLeaks website. Among their revelations were the PRISM surveillance program for Snowden and a video know as Collateral Murder [123] on Manning's part. Whistleblowers are a hot topic of debate as they are people equipped with the technology and power assigned to them by governments who instead decide to turn their tools toward the state. Hence, they seem to be able to conduct surveillance and sousveillance at the same time until they get caught.

The second type is the state that maintains legislation that prevents people from engaging in any discussion that could possibly initiate political reform and start social movements. Although the state has a number of ways to monitor its citizens via cameras or electronic media it does not take their interference with politics seriously. In states like this it is quite usual that phenomena of corporation or government corruption are being covered as in the case of North Korea, China and military dictatorships across the world.[124]

In the third category fall in states where people have more undersight authority compared to the oversight of the state. In this case citizens, activists and journalists provide their knowledge to fight corruption and crime along with police and government organisations. Also there is great participation of the electorate in voting processes through E-Vote systems to pass legislation and vote for elections. In similar ways the development of reputation systems such as Amazon and eBay have given users the chance to rate products and services for future buyers creating a kind of customer sousveillance system. Although this promotes fair trade and establishes democratic conditions in the online market, it also sometimes works at the expense of eloquence and professionalism.As these sites invite all kinds of users to post their rating/review from a service or a product they purchased it does not require of them any special skills or expertise in a certain area(Rheingold).[125]

Sousveillance and Society


The performances show how certain kinds of rule violation can be deliberately used to engender a new kind of balance. They show public acceptance of being videoed as an act of surveillance in public places. When such data collection is done by ordinary people, such as the performers, to other ordinary people, it is often accepted. However, when data projectors show surveillance officials the data that has been collected about them, there is less acceptance. Organizational personnel responsible for surveillance generally do not accept sousveillance from the "ordinary people" performers, even when data displays reveal what the sousveillers are recording.

The social aspect of self-empowerment suggests that sousveillance is an act of liberation, of staking our public territory, and a leveling of the surveillance playing field. Yet, the ubiquitous total surveillance that sousveillance now affords is an ultimate act of acquiescence on the part of the individual. Universal surveillance/sousveillance may, in the end, only serve the ends of the existing dominant power structure. Universal sur/sousveillance may support the power structures by fostering broad accessibility of monitoring and ubiquitous data collection.[126] Or as William Gibson comments in the feature-length motion picture film CYBERMAN ( “You're surveilling the surveillance. And if everyone were surveilling the surveillance, the surveillance would be neutralized. It would be unnecessary.”

This Panopticon, subtly arranged so that an observer may observe, at a glance, so many different individuals, also enables everyone to come and observe any of the observers. The seeing machine was once a sort of dark room into which individuals spied; it has become a transparent building in which the exercise of power may be supervised by society as a whole.

In such a coveillance society, the actions of all may, in theory, be observable and accountable to all. The issue, however, is not about how much surveillance and sousveillance is present in a situation, but how it generates an awareness of the disempowering nature of surveillance, its overwhelming presence in western societies, and the complacency of all participants towards this presence.[126]

In contemporary networked societies, individuals switch among multiple, partial communities and work teams rather than being embedded in single communities or workgroups. Yet, surveillance is a manifestation of the industrial and post-industrial eras of large hierarchical organizations efficiently employing technologies in neo-panopticons of social control. But in networked societies, people are more likely to want sousveillance and coveillance, for they lack the protection of the village/community or hierarchical organization. Newly developed technology allows them to surveil the surveillers. In affording all people to be simultaneously master and subject of the gaze, wearable computing devices offer a new voice in the usually one-sided dialogue of surveillance. They suggest a way towards a self-empowering sousveillance for people as they traverse their multiple and complex networks.[126]

The Politics of Sousveillance


Sousveillance describes a process of watching from below meaning that the subject of the gaze has more power than the watcher. With various means and technology sousveillance has been taking place in different eras over the course of human history leading to uprisings and sociopolitical changes.

French Revolution

The Tennis Court Oath

On May 5, 1789 France the Estates-General had been called on. The delegates of the 3rd Estate representing the bourgeoisie outnumbered those of the Clergy and the Nobles, yet they were not granted a vote by head. They immediately left the congregation and started meeting separately gathering around them members of the clergy, nobility and the peasants. All this led to the famous Tennis court oath where the members of the self-acclaimed National Assembly took an oath never to disband until France had its own constitution. The meetings escalated leading to the Storming of the Bastille before climaxing with the French Revolution.

The French Revolution shows us that a group of people with less power than others managed to organise and paved the way for political reform and democratization with the overthrow of King Louis XVI and the abolition of feudal system. The news of the French Revolution spread with newspapers and regular mail correspondence but it is safe to assume that all the falling Empires of the time ( e.g. Ottoman Empire) would have been better prepared had the impact of the news been emphasized by pictures if possible. With modern mobile computing, social networking and fast internet speeds today news appear on our screen instantly.

Facebook was used extensively during the Egyptian protests in 2011

WikiLeaks' revelations and Arab Spring


For more on this you can visit Illegal Access|Wikileaks and Whistle-blowing

In 2010 the publication of US diplomatic documents from the WikiLeaks website caught the attention of the public community while fostered social movements in Middle East. Specifically, the work of WikiLeaks is often cited as the main cause leading to the events of the Tunisian Revolution. During that time a large number of international rights groups, activists and journalists took to the streets of Tunisia and organised their action through platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Each one of them played a vital role in raising worldwide awareness by posting material of the demonstrations and Tunisia in 2010 ousted its president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The events soon took over neighbouring countries Egypt, Libya, Yemen and others to form the famous revolutionary wave of Arab Spring.

Zapatistas Movement in Mexico


From the outburst of the Zapatista movement in Mexico a group of activists and artists called EDT formed a network of transnational support toward the rebels. To protect the movement the EDT created the FloodNet program which aimed at overwhelming the web servers of websites belonging to the Mexican and US government and other financial institutions.[127]

Citizen Journalism

Example of a Citizen Journalist

Citizen journalism is also an effective method for Sousveillance. Its origin can be dated back to America in 1990s. It refers to the general public posting information that they feel professional journalists should be openly talking about. It can be recognised through the way the citizens write, analyze and transmit news and information through their communication tools. This includes the use of mobile phones, personal blogs and filming in a home environment. The news and information published by them are citizen journalism. Through this Sousveillance method, not only the work of professional journalists, but also the decisions and activities of the government can be monitored by the public.

Another key component that makes a difference between citizen and professional journalism is the use public feedback. Citizen Journalists are becoming increasingly easier to argue with as they include their audience. This is often shown through online blogging which allows "users" to add their own thoughts and ideas.[128] This gives the citizens a larger and much louder voice than the professionals as it shows their true interests in the topics.

There is much to be praised about the rise of citizen journalism, as ordinary people are often in the midst of major events. A news reporter will rarely be on the scene at the beginning of a disaster or event, but with regular citizens now having the ability to live stream these events or post them to YouTube in a matter of minutes. Citizen journalism is often disregarded as a second tier form of reporting, with many worrying that many citizen journalists are basically amateurs who are simply mimicking what they see on TV or in the press.[129] However, citizen journalism is essential for not only a first hand perspective, but also to break down alliances or ties between the media and the government and reveal the whole truth of a story. Often news stories are told in a way that is not balanced, or is favourably sided towards a government initiative. With the government having some level of control of certain media platforms, it is necessary for the average citizen to step in and do what the journalists cannot. A citizen journalist is very rarely in a position of bias, as they are not being paid, or their company is not being paid or even threatened by a higher authority to twist the truth. Citizen Journalism is a raw form of sousveillence as it does not have an allegiance to the government which carries restrictions on the truth. Citizen journalism can relay the truth to the public without fear of job loss, but it also comes with a level of mistrust from professionals and the public alike.

Citizen Journalism in Ferguson, Missouri

Citizen Journalists are crucial to tell a complete story due to the ever growing bias in the media.

In August 9, 2014, following the death of Michael Brown (at the hands of white police officer, Darren Wilson), the city of Ferguson, Missouri entered a state of disarray in what many call the "Ferguson Unrest".[130] Due to the violent nature of the protests and the civil unrest that was being caused due to the militarisation of the police forces several Ferguson locals took a stand online to report on what was happening in their community from their side of the story. Citizen Journalists in the town took to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to spread images and videos of what was happening in their city and took it upon themselves to make sure that international attention was brought into the issue of Michael Brown's death while also attempting to hold the U.S. Government accountable for allowing the strong militarisation of the local police force.

Antonio French, an alderman in the nearby city of St. Louis, spent days sharing videos and images on Twitter that demonstrated police actions that he had captured on his phone. French was later arrested for videoing police actions. French served as a prime example of what a Citizen Journalist should be; a credible witness who helped inform the public of an important political manner and spreading the news to an international level.[131] Thanks to French and others like him, over the next few years citizen journalists would go on to document many other cases of police brutality against people of colour. On Twitter and Facebook, the Black Lives Matter campaign was born thanks to hashtags and trending topics.

Ferguson is not the first example of people using their situations to become Citizen Journalist, it happens all across the world due to the ease of the internet and technology in places like Syria, Iran, Egypt, Palestine, Occupy Wallstreet, Paris during the bombings and attacks, in fact sites like twitter are becoming better for live news updates than that of most journalistic institutions due to the speed at which content can be uploaded.

Citizen Journalism as the Fifth Estate


In a 1787 parliamentary debate, MP Edmund Burke stated "There are three estates in Parliament but in the Reporters' Gallery yonder there sits a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.[132] It is not a figure of speech or witty saying, it is a literal fact, very momentous to us in these times." This statement implied that journalists were meant to be a fourth established branch to the three already established branches of government. Gone are the days of the fourth estate being the newest addition, because of the rise of Citizen Journalism a new estate has risen.

Sites like Wiki Leaks and Anonymous have positioned themselves as key members of the newly established Fifth Estate

The so-called fifth estate is a socio-cultural reference to groupings of outlier viewpoints in contemporary society, and is most associated with bloggers, journalists, and non-mainstream media outlets. Examples of this include groups like Wiki Leaks and Guido Fox.

Main criticisms


Many argue that Citizen Journalism is unregulated and cannot be trusted because there is no official proof-reading. Due to this there are those who believe that the news is and can be brought across with heavy biases. Along with the lack objectivity that can come along with this, the writing can also be judged, depending on the writer, as poor quality or amateur.[133] Moreover, as citizen journalists to not have professional equipment for gathering their evidence, the credibility is often questioned.[134] This suggests that this form of sousveillence is not favoured as their ideologies can overlap how credible their information is.[135] Lastly, is there an inherent issue with the definition of Citizen Jouranlism anyway? "The term citizen journalist has its problems - journalists, after all, can be citizens too".[136]

Sousveillance and Art


Although the art of sousveillance is the actual act of being sousveillant, this section will explore the concept of art within sousveillance.

Art. By definition it is the expression of a skill, the outcome of creativity, imagination produced visually (in form of a painting or a sculpture for example). It is the essence of a human being transferred to a physical creation, usually accessible to a public, usually able to provoke emotions. In the digital era, with the openness and sharing of contents, where pixels often replace the manual work, when it is extremely easy for an emerging or aspiring artist to put the work out there and be known, is there a loss of romanticism, of art being beauty? As with everything, from life itself, art undergoes a cycle, a development. In this era therefore it is not wrong to expect an adaptation of art to the digital, at least on more common levels. In fact, if the classical productions of the ‘big’ names can resist the new trends or even shape them keeping a more traditional line, the emerging ones are more likely to merge with the time and popular demands. The question of whether art would be turned into something less personal and unique because of crowdsource leads to the consideration of the other side of the medal, the opposite phenomenon: the trespassing of boundaries and the exploration of the new. The digital context in fact gives the artists another territory in which to grow and be recognized.

Behind art, beyond beauty, there can be interest, politics, surveillance. With the unofficially coined term ‘artveillance’ exists since the 1930s circa the segment of art that is related with surveillance, a stream of creativity put to the use of an above observer. For example, with the introduction of small, portable cameras, it was made easier for photographers to take pictures secretly. The application of this resource having found a great use in the more modern times, especially after the 9/11 attacks, within intelligence agencies. A thin line of blurred shades divides surveillance and sousveillance situations in art as although an artist becomes the surveillor, it is not necessarily rising itself above the people around, therefore acting in sousveillance. For example, this two-sided surveillance and sousveillance situation is given with equipment like the digital eyeglasses (Google's Project Glass). Although there seems to be a more practical, less artistic use of the art in terms of surveillance, some artists have found the way to transform surveillance data into something more visual, for the public to experience. A good example of this can be found in the work of two men between others: Walker Evans and Trevor Paglen. Walker Evans, one of the first to combine surveillance and art, in 1938 photographed unaware passengers of the New York City Subway to try capturing everyday routines and true moments (natural, not on a set). These stealthy photographs of anonymous people were taken by the artist by hiding a camera under his coat, the shiny chrome painted black and the lens peeking between buttons. A method anticipating the use of cameras today, recording people's lives without even them knowing. Differently from this situation, which could be related closely to sousveillance, Trevor Paglen's work combines the surveillance and the art in a clearer way. He is known for capturing from public locations photos of military facilities and images of stealth-drones and tracing information-gathering satellites’ paths. In his works there is a convergence of beauty, design and political influence to explore, understand and describe the surrounding environment. Particularly interesting, with an effect that has been described as destabilizing, Trevor Paglen puts the audience in front of the core of surveillance with a video installation in the Metro Pictures gallery. More than 4,000 code names have been collected from the archive of NSA document leaked by Snowden and are slowly projected in a darkened room in rising columns.

Challenging society, in a situation of art and sousveillance, art has developed in the digital world, with a modern concept: the use of technology to divulgate creativity in a union that sometimes aims to destabilize the audience. Being different, being against the norm, being against expectations. In sousveillance art finds the potential of extreme, as seen for example with the existence of pages like Régine Debatty's we-make-money-not-art where technology is used as a medium for critical discussion, a point of fusion between artists, hackers, designers, common people. Art can be found in the text itself, in the choice of words: be it the significance within (use of irony, layers of significance, inside jokes) or the choice of font. As in this page, art can be almost denatured for more informative, critical purposes. Extravagance is one of the characteristics of the online world, an element people are aware of and that allows for the freedom of expression. In this context, two more artists will be introduced: Kate Durbin and Tiffany Trenda. Sousveillance, also known as inverse surveillance, finds a wide platform in the digital world, with ordinary people observing others. Through both the equipment and the space available to the masses, art can evolve in the ordinary, from an ordinary person to other ordinary people. Art does not have to be pompous, grand, expensive to be appreciated, and this is true especially in current times. Kate Durbin for example is an artist and writer that has found a good public response on Instagram, in which she can be a surveyor of the digital landscape while being performative. The artist herself describes her work as performance in which art and personal life overlap. For example, she has been posting screenshots of conversations she has had with men on a dating site, for the entertainment of her audience but at the same time to present a real life situation that could apply to many. From posting relatively normal conversations in fact, she is collecting and presenting data for human behaviour and ability to relate, while challenging the norms of society, for example privacy. There is a connection with the audience through the small things in everyday life that could be used as microcosm for a social study on people. In the path of challenge, performance artist Tiffany Trenda's work too are significant, although she focuses more specifically on personal space and the intrusion of this. Proximity Cinema is a work done between 2013 and 2014 in which the artist wants to explore technology and the unconscious use of it. While wearing a full body suit with forty small cell phone screens imbedded, she asked people to interact with her. Phrases like ‘go ahead’, ‘don’t worry about it’ and ‘it’s ok’ were on the screens, which when touched revealed a photo of the artist's body. With this project, the artist examines the familiarity we have with devices but also destroys normal social limits, presenting our identity through technology. An example of performance art to challenge the surveillance-based era, where we as users are unaware of how exposed our identity is.

From personal expression to mass rebellion, art finds its way to the public. Be it through surveillance or sousveillance, there is a visible binary between the artist exploring the surrounding environment and the artist exploring itself. Interestingly, the term ‘sousveillance’ is used by Stefan Sonvilla-Weiss to intend self-surveillance in the process of showing himself to the world. On this line of thought, Avi Rosen can be used as an example, with the project ‘Digital Skin 2' in which data visualizations of various nature and digital lifelogging intertwine.[137] There is also a parallel between the presentation of the self in the digital dimension and in the real world. The use of surveillance and sousveillance as an art form has also allowed people to explore political issues within the world. In 2008 Kirsty Robertson released an article which explored various artists and their use of surveillance and sousveillance [10]. Robertson draws upon examples of using surveillance/sousveillance as an artistic form to draw attention to political issues. One of these artists was Wafaa Bilal’s Domestic Tension (2007). Within his performances surveillance was not the main subject but was used in order to uncover the power relations surveillance creates. Bilal’s performance was most effective at portraying these ideas. In 2007 Iraqi-American artist Bilal locked himself in a studio consumed with video cameras which streamed live to internet users who were granted the ability to shoot Bilal with a paintball gun linked up to the computer. His main intention for this was to highlight the daily lives for people in Iraqi suffering with the civil war. He wanted to use the internet and voyeurism with the purpose of “instigating political dialogue through participatory action” (Bilal, 2007). Therefore, surveillance can also be identified as an art form as there has been a rise in artists focusing their performances within this field.[138]

Schrodinger’s Cam


Another aspect of artistic discourse and philosophical exploration was the re-ectionism of uncertainty. A large number of wireless webcam shirts were made, but only some of them had cameras in them. They were then shuffled and distributed widely. Honestly not knowing whether or not one was wearing a camera added a new dimension to putting the uncertainty principle into artistic practice. Moreover, consider, for example, the sousveillance underground" as a probe into New York proposed ban on photography in subways. An exhibit of subway photographs is expected to follow.

Heisenberg Uncertainty with Schrödinger's Cam: The Maybecamera

A large number of wireless webcam shirts were made, but only some having cameras. These were shuffled so each wearer did not know whether or not theirs had a camera in it. Close up picture of one of many maybecameras showing a detournement, reversalism/re-ectionism, and deconstruction of the typical language (text) of surveillance. A number of people wore these gambling (e.g. Casino Niagara, etc.) without incident. This suggests that perhaps the guards don't read shirts. The wearer's don't know which shirts contain wearable wireless web cameras and which shirts don't. The author's maybecamera design is spreading around the world. Dr. S. Pantagis, a physician at a New York hospital, made an initial batch of 25 of these to distribute to New York poets, followed by a larger production run. As seen in a New York department store's security camera. Closeup view seen by security camera.[139]

Sousveillance and art? Yes, it is a possible and existing relationship, where the artists challenge surveillance while revisiting the way in which art can be presented. Even though some articles (like Jonathan Jones's for the guardian “will the digital age kill off art?”) arise doubts regarding the future of art in the digital world, it is undeniable how the easier connections within the world allows for the development and expression of both genders. The strong masculine presence in the world in fact has a less effective influence in art's online emergence, where women can have a strong voice, in an environment of equality that can be translated to the physical world itself, as shown by events like the International symposium on electronic art.

Public Reactions to the Act of Surveillance and Sousveillance

SURVEILLiberty Leading the people

There are two opposite public reactions towards the Act of Surveillance and Sousveillance. Some consider surveillance as a violation towards their right of privacy, and sousveillance is important for monitoring the government's decisions, while the other think that surveillance system is necessary for preventing criminals and ensuring safety. However, it is agreed by most of the citizens that ordinary surveillance by legal departments are acceptable, as long as their detailed daily lives are not under surveillance day and night.

Strapping a camera to us gives us absolute control resulting in us becoming the Sousveillar, yet the camera is still capturing everyone we encounter within that time. Does this not then result in us potentially becoming the Surveillars? It can then be suggested that being represented as a Surveiller may result in people acting differently towards you. There has been a surge into the investigation of forms of Sousveillance such as wearable devices with the intention to confront Surveillance. Mann, Nolan and Wellman (2003) [11] carried out research involving the video recording of the surrounding (surveilled) environment in order to transform Surveillance techniques into Sousveillance with the outcome of ‘watching the watcher’. This research found that many factors (including type of technology, location and the presentation/representation of technology) had a profound effect on participants which either made them feel empowered or vulnerable.

The investigation discovered that people felt most at ease when they could see both the device which was recording and the footage being recorded. This form of recording then creates a new term known as ‘Coveillance’. Coveillance is neither Surveillance nor Sousveillance but is created when people can see the camera and the camera footage simultaneously. In sum, Coveillance = people being aware of the voyeurism taking place.

Another interesting finding from this investigation was that authorities (security guards) would become more accepting when the sousveiller would explain that they had no control over the device. In contrast, when it was obvious the sousveiller has absolute control authorities would be more confrontational. David Bollier (2013)[12] provides possible explanations for this reaction from security. The first possible explanation for this may be due to the idea of shopping malls trying to prevent criminals from having the ability to discover cracks in security systems which could potentially result in robberies. Moreover, retail experts stated that some stores do not allow photography due to the possibility of shop rivalries infiltrating in order to compare sale prices and retail displays. Another explanation may be due to the idea that sousveillace challenges the power relations of surveillance as it reinstates a sense of equality amongst people. Furthermore, this may convey that sousveillance levels the playing field of surveillance as it is no longer in power. William Gibson suggests if everyone became sousveillers then surveillance would eventually be defused as it would no longer serve a purpose.

The implications of surveillance and sousveillance are often described as liberating, fair and democratic. However, when analytically proceeding towards the long-term macro sociological implications, the perspective becomes more troubling. The social control of surveillance by governments over citizens, mainly illustrated in totalitarian regimes, has throughout history resulted in a sense of fear. Jeremy Bentham's (1838) historical consideration of the ‘panopticon’ and a social system where the monitoring and observation made people aware of the fact that they might be monitored, although didn't know. This impact was found, according to Michel Foucault in writings from the 1980s, to implicate that the monitoring through both symbolic and pragmatic use of the panopticon within a specific social context (such as a prison) could influence people to think and act in a certain way based on the fear that they could be monitored, thus given rise to opportunities for social control. The panopticon was part of the industrial revolution that embraced a need for industrial monitoring where owners and other people in power could monitor public places just prisons and factories.

Surveillance in Pop Culture


Pop culture has embraced the ever widening grasp that surveillance has on our society. Over the years there have been several books, TV shows, films and even video games that have embraced the role that security and surveillance now have. George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four was a book that life under an omnipresent totalitarian state, and is probably the most prominent example of surveillance in pop culture. The book follows a "Big Brother" program that acts as an over viewer to the characters of the novel, it heavily depicts the use of CCTV cameras.

On 27 May 2014, Ubisoft Studios released their game Watchdogs which centres on Aidan Pierce, a master thief, hacker, and self-appointed vigilante who is able to hack into the city-wide mass surveillance and infrastructure control systems to gather information on and resources from any individual he wishes, to evade law enforcement, to stop crimes before or as they happen, to commit crimes himself if needed, and to manipulate various objects and function of the infrastructure to his advantage. The game has you hack into several major well known systems and work with cyber terrorists to steal money from corrupt companies and politicians. The game also had a strong focus on using surveillance cameras to spy on people.

Being the Sousveiller


There was also a thought-provoking discovery when the sousveillers were asked how they felt when carrying out the research. The participants who performed sousveillance felt it made them empowered. While recording there were a large range of emotions from the people being surveilled but the sousveiller felt it was stimulating to show people that there is a lot of things going on (regarding surveillance) that we are unaware of. One participant provided an interesting point suggesting that surveillance is a game in which we feel part of but in fact we are on the other side to it due to the lack of control. On the other hand, it was suggested that sousveillance is more authentic as everyone being recorded is made aware of it. Therefore, it can be argued that we all become part of the act of sousveillance as it is not hidden. However, this idea can be questioned when people start to record with hidden cameras. The act of recording in secret may then complicate the idea of sousveillance. Does this then turn sousveillance back into surveillance? These complex ideas and the constant intertwining of surveillance and sousveillance continues the ongoing research into this field.


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