Cyberspace and the Rise of the Surveillance Society

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					   3011: Geographies of Cyberspace

Cyberspace and the Rise of
 the Surveillance Society

            Martin Dodge
 Lecture 5, Monday 25th October 2004
Today‟s lecture
• defining surveillance and privacy

• surveillance and cyberspace

• why geographers should care about

• overview of surveillance technologies in
  domestic spaces, travel & transportation,
  public spaces
            Surveillance and UCL
 • Jeremy Bentham is widely cited for his ideas of the
 • the adjective „panoptic‟. pan means „all‟ and „optic‟
   is seeing
 • developed by Foucault as key metaphor for explaining
   role of state power

• design of physical environment
to facilitate control by the threat
of total surveillance
• unseen guard in the centre can
see everything the prisoners do.
prisoners can not see the each
other or the guards
  Nineteen Eighty-Four
 “You had to live - did live, from habit that became
 instinct - in the assumption that every sound you
 made was overheard, and except in darkness,
 every movement scrutinised.”
• George Orwell‟s novel, written in 1949, is one of the
  most famous dystopian fictions of tyranny in 20th century
• society controlled through fear of „Big Brother‟
• threat of potential monitoring - you never knew if you
  were being watched. assumed you always were
• culture of pervasive mutual monitoring - watch your
  neighbour and he is watching you. self-policing
• has Orwell‟s nightmare vision come true?
     „Big Brother‟ or lots of little
• “Every murder, school break-in or terrorist act further intensifies
  the spiral of demands for ubiquitous surveillance.”, Stephen
  Graham, (1998)
• how far has UK Govt. become „Big Brother‟?
• police, military, customs and spooks (intelligence service)
• but also the tax man, benefits agency, local councils, tv
  licensing, monitoring email/telephones, (ID cards)
• often said that powerful corporations are „Little Brothers‟
  in that they have so much personal information on us (e.g.
  phone company, your bank, supermarkets)
• surveillance is much more than obvious „spy‟ technologies
  like phone tapping and cameras
• pervasive monitoring of daily life
         Defining surveillance
• the word surveillance derives from the Latin
  vigilia, meaning „wakefulness‟ or „sleeplessness‟
• according to my desk dictionary - „close
  observation, especially of suspected person‟
• „monitoring to control human behaviour‟
• specific observation, of specific people
• now its become blanket monitoring of everyone?
• who is doing the observing, who is controlling?
  differentials in power. do you know?
• surveillance is seen as problematic because of its
  relationship to privacy and social power
           Defining privacy
• private, “kept or removed from public
  knowledge or observation”
• privacy, “being withdrawn from society or
  public interest”
• privacy = anonymity?
• private = personal?
• do you have a right to privacy? Is there a
  privacy law? Human Rights Act
• privacy is a culturally defined norm,
  contingent on time and place. privacy never
  fixed, absolute. negotiated. modern notions
  of arose in industrial, urbanised societies
Human Rights Act: 1998

Article 8: Right to privacy

(1) Everyone has the right to respect for his private and
   family life, his home and his correspondence.

(2) There shall be no interference by a public authority
   with the exercise of this right except such as is in
   accordance with the law and is necessary in a
   democratic society in the interests of national
   security, public safety or the economic well-being of
   the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime,
   for the protection of health or morals, or for the
   protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
    What information is private?
•   home address, home telephone number
•   exam results
•   school reports
•   tv programs you watch, library books borrowed
•   current bank balance, salary, what you bought last
    week, debts
•   who you phoned last week, content of email messages
•   who you vote for? political, religious opinions
•   legal records
•   medical problems, health records
•   never absolute, always depends on context
“The fact is that we all have things to hide, not because they are wrong
  or shameful, let alone illegal, but simply because they are private”
      Privacy, surveillance and
• why does cyberspace make a difference?
• technologies are changing the complex relationships
  between surveillance and privacy
• surveillance today is more than just physical observation
  of selected individuals by spooks
• ICTs are deepening real-time surveillance, blending with
  behavioural models, profiles and simulations
• particularly with the increasing digitisation of data and
  people‟s daily interactions and transactions. trading
  convenience for privacy. rise of so called „dataveillance‟
• enhanced ability to see more and at a greater distance.
  monitor everyone for a few million pounds
• the information society = transparent society
            Webs of surveillance
• power cyberspace in integration of different types of
  surveillance systems
• can no longer assume „privacy through obscurity‟. (the
  credit card company will never delete details on your
• computers getting ever cheaper, faster and storage
  capacities growing
• able to reconstruct the space-time patterns of whole day
  from disparate sources
• put the pieces of your life together in cyberspace - until
  recently you were the only person who knew the „big
• shift from sporadic surveillance to continuous surveillance
  across time and space
                Your „data body‟
• nearly every interaction and transaction with digital
  technology leave trails. these records and logs are
  increasingly permanent. also, increasingly being put up
  for sale
• “Our physical bodies are being shadowed by an increasingly
  comprehensive „data body‟. However, this shadow body does
  more than follow us. It also precede us. Before we arrive
  somewhere, we have already been measured and classified.
  Thus, upon arrival, we're treated according to whatever criteria
  has been connected to the profile that represents us.” Felix
  Stalder, Privacy is not the antidote to surveillance, 2002
• now a government agency or corporation can build a
  systematic digital portrait of your life
   Surveillance and geography?
• why is this a concern to geographers?
• privacy traditional been maintained, in part, by physical
  limits of geographic space and the built environment
   – you can not hear a conversation from far away
   – you can not see through a closed door
• power of new spatial technologies centred around
  knowledge of location (GIS, GPS, RS, wireless tags)
• spatial data systems are powerful tools for storing and
  integrating facts about where we live, what we do
• “Location is a powerful key for relating disparate databanks
  and unearthing information about possession, spending habits,
  and an assortment of behaviors and preferences, real or
  imagined.” Mark Monmonier, Spying with Maps, (2003, 1-2)
• going beyond just pinpointing location, to tracking
• continuous tracking of movement through GPS in
  cars, linked CCTV systems, locational aware mobile
  phones. RFID
                                    (a radio frequency
                                    identification tag)

• significance rests on the ways technological systems
  of surveillant simulation work in the construction of
  material spaces and production of social spaces
• this changes material geographies. changes favour
  the powerful in society. the same surveillance-
  security technologies protect the wealthy and
  segregate and contain the poor
• spatial outcomes of surveillance are active in the
  „social sorting‟, the social production of inequality
    The mobile phone - spy in
         your pocket??
• very useful. Intimate technology that mediates
  much daily life
• its technological architecture is important
• deeply revealing about your life
• identifies you (name, address, bank account)
• services you buy. usage patterns
• who you call. maps your social network
• where you go. maps your movement
• companies and govt. agencies are VERY
  interested in the data generated by mobiles
Amsterdam Realtime project
• tagging the dangerous (criminals) and the vulnerable
  (elderly, children)
• location tagging - the „digital leash‟. stop people
  crossing predefined boundaries
     Surveillance in the home
• home is perceived to be private space and
  invulnerable from surveillance
• rise of smart metering. the electricity
  company will know when you get up in the
  morning and when you go to bed
• smart appliances - convenience versus privacy
• „we know what you watch‟ - digital TV and
  personal video recorders, web sites visited.
  model your viewing preferences
• personal security and the „nanny cams‟
• wired home, coming real soon now
      Surveillance on the move
• whole of Tube is
  monitored by CCTV
• now the buses
• new smartcard tickets
• smart highways. City‟s
  „Ring of Steel‟.
  Congestion Charge
• GPS, black boxes in
  cars. „we know where
  you have been‟
• road pricing and
  movement taxation
                                Oyster card
                                • end of anonymous travel for
                                • convenience
                                • saves money for TfL
                                • but can also track movement
                                of individuals
                                • pay more if you want to move
                                without being tracked

• not clear on what data is stored, for how long
• function creep - let police have it for specific investigation.
general crime sweeps. sold for commercial usage
Surveillance, security
and public space
• monitoring space with cameras and tracking
  movement through space
• Britain is widely acknowledged as the CCTV world
  leader, and London probably has highest density of
  cameras on Earth
• typical UK urban resident filmed more than 300 times
  a day
• stated aims of crime control - but argued much wider
  social control. the actual crime reduction effects of
  CCTV are debatable. displacement effects
• great public (voyeuristic) interest. numerous tv
  programmes based on CCTV footage
• CCTV is not a simple, benign technology

• Stephen Graham says,
• “… evidence is building up that, through CCTV,
  people and behaviours seen not to „belong‟ in the
  increasingly commercialised and privately
  managed consumption spaces of British cities tend
  to experience especially close scrutiny” (p. 8)
• move from single analogue CCTV systems to
  linked, integrated digital systems that enable
  „suspects‟ to be followed through the city
• linking private and public systems
• digital camera systems enable further storage,
  computation, and analysis - spotting target
  people and types of behaviours
• camera are getting much smaller. invisibility
• no sense of accountability or regulation. how
  often do you see warning signs?
• geography of CCTV camera installation.
  protection of property of the wealthy?
     CCTV as the fifth utility
• Stephen Graham again, argues
• “CCTV is thus well on the way to becoming our
  fifth utility. In the near future we can speculate
  about people worrying when they are not under
  the soothing effect of some „friendly eye in the
  sky‟ just as they do when beyond the reach of
  electricity, power, water, flushing toilets or mobile
• Congestion Charge system films all vehicles all the
time. number plate recognition
• 688 cameras at 203 sites, plus mobile vans.
• function creep - charge enforcement to general
terrorism -> crime control

   • Westminster Council‟s West End CCTV
   network. opened in July 2002, now 58
   cameras. operates 24x7x365
         Surveillance and you
• think about your daily experience of surveillance
• which routine activities are monitored? what
  companies / organisation do you have
  transactions with
• who holds the balance of power?
• do you mind? does it matter? can you avoid it?
• It myriad of small actions - but crucially this is
  what defines our identity. do we loose our sense
  of self?
• on your journey home, try to count the number
  of CCTV camera that film you. who owns them?
  do they make you safer or at least feel safer?
      Public opinion

(Source: Guardian / ICM poll, September 2002)
The innocent have nothing to fear?


But who defines what is „innocent‟?
• what are the geographical implications of
  – ordering of space
  – social polarisation of society
• does it affect your behaviour?
• is it just part of modern life? does the
  convenience outweigh the loss of privacy
  (e.g. credit cards)? Is there no choice - try
  hiring a car or checking into a hotel without
  a credit card
• pretty soon we will see the end cash. what
  happens with the end of anonymous money?
• end of privacy?
Resisting the surveillance society?
 • counting and mapping the extent - Digital City Audit
   group project and also in your individual assessment
 • minor acts of „resistance‟. never give more details
   than necessary, fill in forms incorrectly

 • activists. Surveillance Camera Players. Mark Thomas‟s
   weapons inspectors. role of citizens armed with
   camcorders. loyalty card swap meets
 • tell your MP you don‟t want ID cards?
 • nominate someone for „Big Brother Award‟
 • make a request under Data Protection Act
 • but does this make any difference?
Surveillance Camera Players
Reading for this lecture
• Key readings

• Dan Farmer and Charles C. Mann, (2003) “Surveillance
  Nation”, Technology Review, April / May 2003

• Castells, Internet Galaxy, chapter 6
   – Privacy and Liberty in Cyberspace
Reading for this lecture
• Supplemental readings
• David Lyon (2002) "Everyday surveillance: personal
  data and social classifications”, (3011 website)

• Stephen Graham (1998) "Spaces of Surveillant
  Simulation: New Technologies, Digital
  Representations, and Material Geographies”, EPD
  Space and Society

• Mark Monmonier (2002), Spying with Map:
  Surveillance Technologies and the Future of Privacy

         Enemy of the State                  Nineteen Eighty-Four
Next steps
• Friday - outlining the Digital City Audit, the
  group project that forms the 3011 coursework

• the next lecture, is a guest lecture by Mike
  Batty on virtual reality and the virtual city

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