For this post, I made it my mission to become warier of the ways that surveillance is put on me over a weekend. Over the weekend observed, I noticed three key ways that put me under surveillance. These groups included video surveillance, ‘dataveillance’ and geo-surveillance.
The Periscope above presents a great example of how users are increasingly blurring their own public and private lives together as a live video was broadcasted my every move. Something as simple as walking to the station became public entertainment/surveillance for anyone watching online… strangers included.
When I look back over the weekend, I was filmed in my apartment building, on the train, in a restaurant, at work, on the M1 highway – both by safety cameras and dashcams – and even by myself. I had become so desensitised that I surprised myself to how many cameras are out there. For example, on my journey to Swinburne University, I was tracked nearly all the way by the astonishing number of security cameras – I lost count after 12 on campus alone.
Dataveillance refers to the collection of data of online users, generally to attract advertisers or data buyers. (Ellis, Harper & Tucker, 2016) This act of dataveillance was in full sight over the weekend. On Saturday, I received a sponsored advertisement on Instagram for Japanese Whiskey from a ramen place. The appearance of this ad made me question why it was targeted at me? Was it because I’m a bit of a foodie? Was it because my housemate was just about to leave for Japan? Or was it because my housemate and me were talking about bringing whiskey home from Japan?
Not to mention the information being collected from my Myki card. Scarier yet, was how many digital trackers, Cookies, I had on my browser after just a weekend! Each one providing some sort of data bridge back to the sites that put them in the jar for the lack of a better analogy.
While I touched base with geolocations and Google’s tracking timeline in an earlier blog post, this weekend still managed to open my eyes up to how specific the data being collected, unknowingly, was. On Saturday night, I went to the cinemas with friends at Highpoint and I received some curious notifications from my phone.
Not only did Google know that I was at Highpoint but Facebook assumed that I was at the cinemas – what else do people do at 9pm on a Saturday at Highpoint I guess. I mean it’s a nice feeling knowing that I can get a map for Highpoint without the need to search it but at the same time it is a little scary knowing that two data companies know exactly where I am.
This weekend made me truly understand how much of a surveillance society we actually are. Chalkley (2012) describes this state as “living in a community that promotes, accepts and embraces increasing levels of surveillance as an important component of everyday life. We are welcoming surveillance into on our everyday lives. When we see a security camera we think safety and when we see a targeted ad we are likely to mistake it for an organic post. So just remember that there is probably someone out there watching you right now. #AlwaysWatching
Chalkley, T 2012 ‘Surveillance: Why is everybody staring?’ in T Chalkley et al. Communication, New Media and Everyday Life, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, pp201-214
Ellis, D, Harper D & Tucker, I 2016 ‘Experiencing the surveillance society’, The Psychologist, Vol. 29, No. 9, Retrieved 5 September 2016, EBSCO