Skip to content

Toggle service links

Coming to Terms with Seductive Surveillance
Beyond the Privacy-Security Trade-Off Argument
Pinelopi Troullinou

This event took place on 8th July 2016 at 11:30am (10:30 GMT)
Knowledge Media Institute, Berrill Building, The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, MK7 6AA

In western societies, the dependence on Information and Communication technologies (ICTs) is rapidly increasing. The use of digital technologies in everyday life is widespread and individuals seem to use their digital gadgets everywhere as they promise to offer them communication, entertainment, and convenience “all in one”. Ever more gadgets and applications come to life reshaping the definitions of time and space. These celebratory aspects of digital technologies support the argument that ICTs contribute to the empowerment of the citizens, freedom of expression, inclusion and ultimately Democracy. The interaction with digital technologies, however, generates data that can be collected, monitored and sorted for different purposes than they were originally collected for. The leaks in the summer of 2013 by the US National Security Agency (NSA) whistle-blower Edward Snowden have revived afresh the debate about massive surveillance through these digital technologies. Surveillance has become ubiquitous and an integral part of modern societies. Media often focus on concerns over privacy in regards to mass surveillance. However, are the risks of a surveillance society reduced to the issues of privacy?

This presentation aims to explore the emergence of surveillance in neoliberalism and the associated societal risks such as social sorting and social profiling. Furthermore, it will explore the concept of seductive surveillance in the context of digital gadgets and in particular smartphones as means of market and state surveillance. This concept will shed light on the articulation of the relationship between individuals and information and communication technologies. Drawing upon the findings of 13 focus groups conducted amongst students in British Universities, it will be argued that participants do care about their privacy contrary to the common beliefs, but they do not fully comprehend the way that digital technologies operate and how data are collected and used by both the state and the market. Thus, they mainly relate privacy concerns to trust in the government and relevant organisations. Furthermore, they feel responsible for their data management as a way to protect their personal data disregarding any other concerns of surveillance.

The webcast was open to 1000 users
Creative Commons Licence KMi logo