Post Panopticon & Me

Teaching privacy and surveillance is a great reason to return to the theories that underpin everything, and I do enjoy introducing students to the history, function, and metaphor of the panopticon. While making myself rethink how it actually works.

The basic panopticon is nicely summarized by Jespersen et al in their 5-point list about the character of the panopticon in Surveillance, Persuasion, and Panopticon

  1. The observer is not visible from the position of the observed;
  2. The observed subject is kept conscious of being visible (which together with the principle immediately above in some cases makes it possible to omit the actual surveillance);
  3. Surveillance is made simple and straightforward. This means that most surveillance functions can be automated;
  4. Surveillance is depersonalized, because the observer’s identity is
    unimportant. The resulting anonymous character of power actually gives Panopticism a democratic dimension, since anybody can in principle perform the observation required;
  5. Panoptic surveillance can be very useful for research on human behaviour, since it due to its practice of observing people allows systematic collection of data on human life.

So last week I focused on privacy and surveillance in situations of “invisible” panopticons. Invisible panopticons could still be covered by point 2 above. In the panopticon we internalize the rules for fear of being watched, and ultimately punished for transgression. But I was trying to explain why there are situations of of self-surveillance where we could easily “misbehave” and nobody would punish us. A misbehavior that nobody cares about aside from maybe myself. If I binge cookies for dinner, drink wine for breakfast, watch trash tv, ignore my work etc nobody cares (unless its extreme) but I may punish myself. Where is the panopticon/power that controls my behavior.

In this case the panopticon (if we can claim there is one) is… my self image? We really have to contort Foucault’s ideas to make this fit under the panopticon. As he says in Discipline and Punish:

the Panopticon must not be understood as a dream building: it is the diagram of a mechanism of power reduced to its ideal form; its functioning, abstracted from any obstacle, resistance or friction, must be represented as a pure architectural and optical system: it is in fact a figure of political technology that may and must be detached from any specific use.

The power over ourselves in settings where there may be no real social harm if we were found out, is more about the conditioning and identities with which we conform. And our ability to act beyond them, to break free of the constraints of power represents the scope of agency we have.

To behave outside the norms that reside within me requires that I am aware of those norms and that I am comfortable to break those norms. That I recognize that there may be other actions I could be taking, and that I am comfortable enough to take them. So the way in which Butler argues that we are not determined by norms. We are determined by the repeated performance of norms. This is as Butler agues in the conclusion of Gender Troubles “…‘agency’, then, is to be located within the possibility of a variation on that repetition.”

Human Surveillance & Agency

Therefore I am being surveilled by the idea of me. How that me would behave in any given situation is limited by my ability to see myself behave.

Surveillance in the Simulacrum Notes From a Lecture

This lecture was about the ways in which the Simulacrum is a model for surveillance. The idea was to present the ways in which surveillance can be seen as beginning with juridical power of classical liberalism. This is best illustrated by the ways in which the power of the monarch was all about the right to use power over life and death to enforce commands. An illustration of this can be seen in Bentham’s model prison. This classic surveillance was built into the architecture and focused on reducing the cost of surveillance of the prisoners. In Bentham’s prison the efficiency was maximized when the few could easily and efficiently monitor the many. The norms we live by create the prison. Foucault writes in Volume One of History of Sexuality:

Power was exercised mainly as a means of deduction, a subtraction mechanism, a right to appropriate a portion of the wealth, a tax of products, goods and services, labor and blood, levied on subjects… a right of seizure… it culminated in the privilege to seize hold of life in order to suppress it.

This is, of course, Foucault’s starting point when he sees the prison as a metaphor of control and power. In the panopticon it was the prisoner’s role to internalize their own surveillance and become their own guards. In the wider society this can be seen by the ways in which we all become our own guards as we have internalized the social rules around us.

In order to illustrate this, I used the art history in order to illustrate the shift from the single dominant explanatory model to the complexity of regulatory and surveillance models. I started with showing them Diego Velazquez’s Las Melinas from 1656. After describing what the image portrayed we spoke of the positioning of the artist, the royal couple, the courtiers, dwarves and dog. The meaning increased with the understanding of who everyone was. The next image was Thomas Gainsborough’s Mr and Mrs Andrews

(1750) which portrayed the wealthy couple showing off their wealth. It reminds me of the boastful elements of social media. The next portrait was John Singleton Copley’s Portrait of Sam Adams (1772). This shows Adams slightly disheveled, holding a petition and demanding change. His head is oddly sized to his body and its hardly a flattering portrait. The image captures the high point of his activism rather than his physical prowess and wealth.

 

 

A major technological development is the camera. Now that mechanical reproduction was possible the question of what could be done in art was open for experimentation. From this point we see the development of different styles from the expressionism of Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1893), to the dadism of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionism, and the pop art of Andy Warhol.

These forms of art are often criticized for being simple and hardly worthy of the praise and attention they receive. The goal was to explain the ways in which we have moved from the dominant explanations of the world and begun to accept that multiple models of explanations that overlap and co-exist. The earlier forms of art are representations of a single idea and people. Later art has nothing so simple models of explanation but they are there to be interpreted and can offer different answers to different people. It was a fun exercise.

In particular asking the students whether something was art or not. Along with these famous images I also showed them an image of the joke that some people played when they put a pair of glasses on the floor in a gallery and people began taking photos of them.

Asking the students if this was art led to an interesting discussion. Could Marcel Duchamp exhibit a urinal and everyone called it art then what was different with the eyeglasses?

The goal was to discuss the world of surveillance without a dominant narrative and how power is redefined. Instead of the (juridical) centralized power we are left to our norms and this comes into a form of control by desire. The desire to belong to, and follow a group of norms. I had the students post questions on the readings in advance. Some of the questions were:

So is Bogard saying that being able to predict the actions of a population is a more effective form of control than making the population think it is constantly being watched?

Do you believe that people want to be ‘private’ in certain aspects of their life because of over-surveillance or has there always been an innate feeling that we are being watched?

Does constant surveillance morph people’s personalities over time?

if simulations are truly a way of surveilling, or something else? Are simulations a violation of privacy if they are not technically real?

With this I moved on to explaining the simulacrum as envisioned by Baudrillard who asserted that,

as simulation ascends to a dominant position in postmodern societies, the sign’s traditional function of representation, i.e. its power to “mirror reality” and separate it from false appearances, comes to an end, along with its role in the organization of society.

and

The utopian goal of simulation…is not to reflect reality, but to reproduce it as artifice; to “liquidate all referentials” and replace them with signs of the real. The truth of the sign henceforth is self-referential and no longer needs the measure of an independent reality for its verification.

In explaining the simulacrum I turned to The Idea Chanel and Mike Rugnetta to help illustrate the concept. His video “How Is Orphan Black An Illustration of the Simulacrum?” is a great and popular way to introduce the concept.

So Baudrillard shares Foucault’s sense that the panoptic model of enclosure and its disciplinary logic are historically finished. They are not enough to explain the ways in which norms are used as control and surveillance.

The discipline enforced by panoptic surveillance evolves into a general “system of deterrence,” in which submission to a centralized gaze becomes a general codification of experience that allows no room for deviation from its model. In post-panoptic society, subjectivity is not produced by surveillance in the conventional sense of hierarchical observation, but by codes intended to reproduce the subject in advance.

Not to mention that…

…power does not vanish, but becomes simulated power, no longer instantiated and invested in the real, but rather reproduced in codes and models.

In order to help explain the ways in which norms are used in enforcing I used Judith Butler’s ideas that its not that we are determined by norms – but rather that we are determined by the repeated performance of norms. In Gender Trouble she writes

In a sense, all signification takes place within the orbit of the compulsion to repeat; ‘agency’, then, is to be located within the possibility of a variation on that repetition.

The next step was to introduce the concept of biopower. This is becoming more and more interesting with the increasing use of wearable devices and fitness apps. This mode of surveillance comes with the idea of measurement through ideas of normal. Once we introduce concepts such as IQ, standardized testing, and BMI we instantly measure ourselves against them. They are the basis for creating a “correct” way to be. After the readings, some of the questions asked by the students were:

Is invisibly guiding people towards information that reinforces their biases (presumably what they want) a form of corporate efficiency, informational slavery, or both?

Does this type of surveillance bother us? Why not?

How does personal technology increase the constant surveillance of our bodies?

But how can we really trust algorithms in surveillance?

Here are the powerpoint slides I used in the class.

Who owns your stuff?

Its a discussion that has been going on since the start of the Free Software movement in the 80s (and maybe even earlier), and its taking a more sinister and urgent turn. There are two parts of the problem both addressed in Joshua Fairfield’s book “Owned: Property, Privacy and the New Digital Serfdom” and this article he wrote for Quartz: A Roomba of One’s Own. The first part is the question

If we are surrounded by devices we bought but do not control, do we really own them?

This is the challenge to the very idea of property that we are facing today. The books you buy for your Kindle are less yours than the books you have on your shelf (they are more leased than owned). The devices that you cannot repair are a clear example of the ways in which your stuff is really more of a rental situation.

The second part is all about the data our devices collect about us. We have always been under surveillance but the difference is that now we are the ones buying the surveillance devices AND providing all the data for surveillance. Recently there was a fascinating display of this when Netflix posted this tweet:

Some people thought it was amusing while others saw it as creepy. But it is a simple example of how everything we do is being mined for data. This was a simple piece of humor, but it is also an excellent visualization of the power of data collection. Its not even a complex example.

Would Warren and Brandeis be Luddites?

Last week I taught “The Right to Privacy” by Warren and Brandeis. Their article was published in 1890 but is filled with sentiments and quotes that could be addressing technology today. The language is a bit aged but the ideas are still clear.

This could be about social media…

The intensity and complexity of life, attendant upon advancing civilization, have rendered necessary some retreat from the world, and man, under the refining influence of culture, has become more sensitive to publicity, so that solitude and privacy have become more essential to the individual; but modern enterprise and invention have, through invasions upon his privacy, subjected him to mental pain and distress, far greater than could be inflicted by mere bodily injury.

And their fear of technology

“Instantaneous photographs and newspaper enterprise have invaded the sacred precincts of private and domestic life; and numerous mechanical devices threaten to make good the prediction that ” what is whispered in the closet shall be proclaimed from the house-tops.”

There is lots more. Their work reflects ideas found in The Shallows by Nicholas Carr or any of the later books by Sherry Turkle. People who we generally see, to a varying degree, as anti-technology. Usually when people go against the current technology we throw about the pejorative term Luddite!

And Warren & Brandeis may have faced similar criticism in their time. The article was well received. For example an article in the 1891 Atlantic Monthly wrote (from Glancy The Invention of the Right to Privacy Arizona Law Review 1979):

…a learned and interesting article in a recent number of the Harvard Law Review, entitled The Right to Privacy. It seems that the great doctrine of Development rules not only in biology and theology, but in the law as well; so that whenever, in the long process of civilization, man generates a capacity for being made miserable by his fellows in some new way, the law, after a decent interval, steps in to protect him.

But an interesting social critique comes from Godkin writing about the Right to Privacy article in The Nation in 1890

The second reason is, that there would be no effective public support or countenance for such proceedings. There is nothing democratic societies dislike so much to-day as anything which looks like what is called “exclusiveness,” and all regard for or precautions about privacy are apt to be considered signs of exclusiveness. A man going into court, therefore, in defence of his privacy, would very rarely be an object of sympathy on the part either of a jury or the public.

He also wrote about how their ideas were interesting but maybe belonged to a certain class of individual… (from Glancy The Invention of the Right to Privacy Arizona Law Review 1979)

” ‘privacy’ has a different meaning to different classes or categories of persons, it is, for instance, one thing to a man who has always lived in his own house, and another to a man who has always lived in a boardinghouse.”

 

Its much too easy to look at the past and judge it from the perspective of the present. But I wonder if I called Warren & Brandeis luddites if I had been around at the time?

Privacy in the Past: Woman & Contraception

Kristofer Nelson writes about Privacy, autonomy, and birth control in America, 1860-1900, its a fascinating article on the ways in which gender and privacy have historically played out. This becomes particularly problematic when dealing with birth control. While access to contraception and abortion are still highly discussed today, they are not discussed in this way. What is interesting is the ways in which the private and public domains have been mapped and their borders re-drawn over time. Indeed

Access to birth control became, controversially, protected by the “right to privacy” in 1965;1 a hundred years before, “procreation was a matter of public concern.”2 Yet, contradictorily and confusingly, Victorian women — and their bodies — were protected (and limited) by a powerful social division between private and public spheres.

The rights of woman to her body was viewed in relation to other rights and needs. She was either “property” of her father or husband, or a national commodity as it was the women who would bear the American children. Therefore her use of contraception conflicted with a public interest:

A woman’s body was both a private and a national commodity. If she took steps to control her fertility she entered into the public domain and came into conflict with laws governed by public interest. If she interfered with her husband’s right to her body, she offended him as a man and a potential father.9

The latter quote is from Annegret S. Ogden, The Great American Housewife: From Helpmate to Wage Earner, 1776-1986, Contributions in Women’s Studies, no. 61 (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1986).

 

Privacy a Question of Class

As we are in the beginning of the privacy course I dedicated today’s class to a closer reading of the classic Warren & Brandeis Right to Privacy article from 1890. We began with a discussion on what rights were, where they came from, and what they meant. The concept of rights is interesting as it is invoked often enough but it is often only vaguely understood.

From this point the discussion moved to trying to understand why Warren & Brandeis were interested in writing the article and what at that time in history made it relevant. The often cited cause is that Warren married Mabel Bayard, the daughter of a senator and future secretary of state – and that the press were overly prying. However, an interesting article What if Samuel D. Warren Hadn’t Married a Senator’s Daughter? by Amy Gajda shows that this was not the case. The press naturally reported it but hardly in a prying manner. Also the couple were married seven years before the publication, this may be a long time to hold a grudge. While the press were “nastier” when reporting the death of Mabel’s mother and sister, it is difficult to see if this was the true impetus for writing the article.

What is clear is that Warren had the main desire for the article and Brandeis was the lead author. Their anger was directed at the ways in which gossip had turned into an industry.

The press is overstepping in every direction the obvious bounds of propriety and of decency. Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and the vicious, but has become a trade which is pursued with industry as well as effrontery. . . . To occupy the indolent, column upon column is filled with idle gossip, which can only be procured by intrusion upon the domestic circle . . .

The lowering of production costs for newspaper production, the increase in the gossip press, the desire for people to read this material is all reflected in the article. This was also a period of time when new technologies were enabling a new level of recording and transmitting data

Instantaneous photographs and newspaper enterprise have invaded the sacred precincts of private and domestic life; and numerous mechanical devices threaten to make good the prediction that ” what is whispered in the closet shall be proclaimed from the house-tops.

It is clear that the authors see a mix between technology and the business models that these technologies support. All this together was creating harm. Here they were looking towards a type of psychological harm that comes from the lack of protection from the sphere that is necessary for people to stay healthy in an ever more distressing world:

The intensity and complexity of life, attendant upon advancing civilization, have rendered necessary some retreat from the world, and man, under the refining influence of culture, has become more sensitive to publicity, so that solitude and privacy have become more essential to the individual; but modern enterprise and invention have, through invasions upon his privacy, subjected him to mental pain and distress, far greater than could be inflicted by mere bodily injury.

By looking at a wide range of cases and laws they explore, for example the ways in which copyright and defamation work, in order to

It is our purpose to consider whether the existing law affords a principle which can properly be invoked to protect the privacy of the individual; and, if it does, what the nature and extent of such protection is.

The answer they seek, lies in the rights stemming from the individual and are an extension of the physical space that is the property of the individual. And there extent is interest as they recognize the importance of metadata when they write

A man writes a dozen letters to different people. No person would be permitted to publish a list of the letters written. If the letters or the contents of the diary were protected as literary compositions, the scope of the protection afforded should be the same secured to a published writing under the copyright law. But the copyright law would not prevent an enumeration of the letters, or the publication of some of the facts contained therein.

The article was well received. For example an article in the 1891 Atlantic Monthly wrote (from Glancy The Invention of the Right to Privacy Arizona Law Review 1979):

…a learned and interesting article in a recent number of the Harvard Law Review, entitled The Right to Privacy. It seems that the great doctrine of Development rules not only in biology and theology, but in the law as well; so that whenever, in the long process of civilization, man generates a capacity for being made miserable by his fellows in some new way, the law, after a decent interval, steps in to protect him.

But an interesting social critique comes from Godkin writing about the Right to Privacy article in The Nation in 1890

The second reason is, that there would be no effective public support or countenance for such proceedings. There is nothing democratic societies dislike so much to-day as anything which looks like what is called “exclusiveness,” and all regard for or precautions about privacy are apt to be considered signs of exclusiveness. A man going into court, therefore, in defence of his privacy, would very rarely be an object of sympathy on the part either of a jury or the public.

He also wrote (from Glancy The Invention of the Right to Privacy Arizona Law Review 1979)

” ‘privacy’ has a different meaning to different classes or categories of persons, it is, for instance, one thing to a man who has always lived in his own house, and another to a man who has always lived in a boardinghouse.”

Godkin is interesting as he puts the privacy that Warren and Brandeis are calling for into an social or class perspective. The harm that Warren and Brandeis experience is a lack of comfort that only exists in the class that can afford it. There is no right to privacy in the sense that everyone should be given the opportunity to experience the right. It is the protection of those who already have power – not the creation of a right to empower people.

An interesting comparison is when Mark Zuckerberg declared that privacy is no longer a social norm in 2010. But in 2013  he bought four homes surrounding his house in order to ensure his privacy. Privacy is what can be afforded.

Privacy and Media Power Teaching

This is my second term at the Communication Department at UMass Boston and this term I am teaching a capstone course called Privacy: Communication, Technology, Society (early syllabus here) and News Media and Political Power (early syllabus here). The courses are lots of fun and the students seem to be responding well.

In the privacy course we have already had lectures and discussions on the history of the toilet and bedroom just to get things started. In Media Power we have discussed Postman, the causes of the Iraq war and the purpose of war.

Its going to be a busy and exciting term.

Draft Privacy Syllabus

This term I have been given free hands to design a privacy course for the Communication Department at UMass Boston – And I am VERY excited about it. Here is a first draft of the syllabus. If you are student at UMass and interested in taking the course please contact me.

WEEK 1: Privacy as Human Right Legislating Privacy (law & convention)

Wed, 9 Sep     Introduction

Fri, 11 Sep      Read Warren & Brandeis, ‘The Right to Privacy’, Harvard Law Review 1890-4(1), pp. 193-220.

Watch Glenn Greenwald: Why privacy matters (2014) TED Talk https://youtu.be/pcSlowAhvUk

Watch Alessandro Acquisti: Why privacy matters (2013) TED Talk https://youtu.be/H_pqhMO3ZSY

Write: Considering our technology use: Are W&B relevant today?

WEEK 2: Privacy vs Security

Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, said “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place”

Mon, 14 Sep   Discussion Why Privacy Matters

Wed, 16 Sep The Nothing to Hide Argument

Fri, 18 Sep      Watch The Hidden History of Privacy – Jill Lepore The New Yorker Festival 2013. https://youtu.be/zuth-_rppKM

Watch Daniel Solove: Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Fear? https://youtu.be/FqJ8EMwj7zY

Read: Solove, D. (2005) “The Digital Person and the Future of Privacy” in Privacy and Identity: The Promise and Perils of a Technological Age (Strandburg, ed.) http://docs.law.gwu.edu/facweb/dsolove/Digital-Person/text/Digital-Person-CH3.pdf

Read: Schneier, B. (2009) “Is aviation security mostly for show?” CNN, December 29. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/OPINION/12/29/schneier.air.travel.security.theater/

WEEK 3: Spatial Privacy

Mon, 21 Sep   Discussion Privacy & Security: Bentham, Foucault and theatre of the absurd.

Wed, 23 Sep Panopticon: Is surveillance a deterrent?

Fri, 25 Sep      Read: Who’s Watching? Video Camera Surveillance in New York City and the need for Public Oversight. A Special Report by the New York Civil Liberties Union FALL 2006 http://www.nyclu.org/pdfs/surveillance_cams_report_121306.pdf

Write: There have been calls for police officers to carry body cameras. Discuss any privacy issues that could arise from this technology.

WEEK 4: Individual Rights and the Police

Mon, 28 Sep   Discussion: police surveillance

Wed, 30 Sep  Privacy and the 1st 4th & 5th amendments

Fri, 2 Oct         Read: Center for Constitutional Rights, Stop and Frisk – The Human Impact Report July 2012. http://stopandfrisk.org/the-human-impact-report.pdf

Read: Lippman, M. (2014) “Searches and Seizures”, Criminal Procedure 2nd ed. https://us.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/53702_Lippman_Ch3.pdf

Read: You Have the Right to Remain Silent National Lawyer Guild https://www.nlg.org/sites/default/files/KYR-English-web1.pdf

Week 5: Surveillance Technologies in the wild

Ryan Calo “Robot-Sized gaps in surveillance law” in Rotenberg

Mon, 5 Oct      —

Wed, 7 Oct     From CCTV to Drones: Private Surveillance & Function creep

Fri, 9 Oct         Read: McNeal, G. Drones and Aerial Surveillance: Considerations For Legislators. November 2014. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Research/Files/Reports/2014/10/drones%20aerial%20surveillance%20legislators/Drones_Aerial_Surveillance_McNeal_FINAL.pdf

Read: Thompson, R. M. (2013) Drones in Domestic Surveillance Operations: Fourth Amendment Implications and Legislative Responses CRS Report for Congress April 3. https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R42701.pdf

Write:

Week 6: Tracking Devices “its only metadata”

 Mon, 12 Oct   CLOSED

Wed, 14 Oct   End of Culture? What your library says about you. Smartphones & Tablets: Did you read the license?

Fri, 16 Oct      CLOSED

Watch: Malte Spitz “Your Phone Company is Watching” TED Talk http://www.ted.com/talks/malte_spitz_your_phone_company_is_watching?language=en

Week 7: The Internet, Web & Social Media

Mon, 19 Oct   Does the Internet Spell End of Privacy?

Wed, 21 Oct   Watch: Citizenfour (Poitras, 2014)

Fri, 23 Oct      Watch: “The NSA, Snowden, and Surveillance” (CRCS Lunch Seminar) – Bruce Schneier talk https://youtu.be/3apzxHAA8mI

Write:

Week 8: The Internet, Web & Social Media continued

Mon, 26 Oct   Watch: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver – Edward Snowden Interview https://youtu.be/0zg7_4AMXGs

Watch: Terms and Conditions May Apply (Hoback, 2013)

Wed, 28 Oct   Sleepwalking, Convenience and Terms of Service

Fri, 30 Oct      Watch Do Not Track is a personalized documentary series about privacy and the web economy. https://donottrack-doc.com/en/intro/

Week 9: The Right to Hide?

Mon, 2 Nov     Discussion: Social Media Privacy

Wed, 4 Nov    Anonymity & Pseudonymity: Encryption & Masked protest.

Fri, 6 Nov        Read: Coleman, G. (2013) Anonymous in Context: The Politics and Power behind the Mask CIGI Internet Governance Papers. https://www.cigionline.org/sites/default/files/no3_8.pdf

Write:

Week 10: Identity, Privacy & the right to be forgotten?

 Mon, 9 Nov     Google vs Europe & the right to be forgotten

Wed, 11 Nov CLOSED

Fri, 13 Nov     Read: European Commission: Factsheet on the “Right to be Forgotten” ruling (C-131/12) https://youtu.be/r-ERajkMXw0

Read: European Commission: Myth-Busting The Court of Justice of the EU and the “Right to be Forgotten” http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/files/factsheets/factsheet_rtbf_mythbusting_en.pdf

Watch: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Right To Be Forgotten (HBO) https://youtu.be/r-ERajkMXw0

Watch: Viktor Mayer-Schönberger presents “Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age Berkman Center https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwxVA0UMwLY

Week 11: The Private Body: From fingerprints to DNA

Mon, 16 Nov Genetics and law enforcement

Wed, 18 Nov Is genetic privacy possible?

Fri, 20 Nov     Read: Stewart, J. & Thy Tran, D. (2007) “The Ethics of Genetic Screening” in The ethical imperative in the context of evolving technologies (Bassick ed)

http://www.ethicapublishing.com/ethical/3CH1.pdf

Read: Rothstein, M. “Keeping Your Genes Private”, Scientific American. September 2008. https://www.mcdb.ucla.edu/Research/Goldberg/HC70A_W12/pdf/keepyourgenesprivate.pdf

Read: Oscapella, E. (2012) Genetic Privacy and Discrimination: An Overview of Selected Major Issues. BC Civil Liberties Association https://bccla.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/2012-BCCLA-Report-Genetic-Privacy1.pdf

Read: Prabhakar, S. et al (2003) “Biometric Recognition: Security and Privacy Concerns”, IEEE Security & Privacy http://biometrics.cse.msu.edu/Publications/GeneralBiometrics/PrabhakarPankantiJain_BiometricSecurityPrivacy_SPM03.pdf

Watch: Whose DNA is it anyway? Wendy Bonython at TEDxCanberraWomen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLvtv2iYv4Y

Write:

Week 12: Bodies of technology

 Mon, 23 Nov  Selfies, Sexting, & Nonconsensual pornography (Revenge Porn)

Wed, 25 Nov  Gamification, Health apps, & User Data

Fri, 27 Nov     EXERCISE?

Week 13: Big data, algorithms & identity

 Mon, 30 Nov  Defining your identity: data or choice?

Wed, 2 Dec     Watch: Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier, “BIG DATA: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYS_4CWu3y8

Fri, 4 Dec        Watch: Eli Pariser “The Filter Bubble” TED Talk http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles?language=en

Listen: Joseph Turow “How Companies Are ‘Defining Your Worth’ Online” Fresh Air. http://www.npr.org/2012/02/22/147189154/how-companies-are-defining-your-worth-online

 Week 14: Looking elsewhere for solutions

Mon, 7 Dec     Subversion: Sousveillance, body cams, and masked demonstrators

Wed, 9 Dec     Privacy through Copyright

Fri, 11 Dec      Write: Are body cams a solution? Strengths & Weaknesses.

Week 15: The Future of Privacy

Mon, 14 Dec   Discussion – Where is privacy going?

Read Lee Rainie and Janna Anderson The Future of Privacy” Pew Research Center http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/12/18/future-of-privacy/

Privacy and Surveillance in the Movies

In preparation for my course on privacy I asked the hive mind (mainly Twitter & Facebook) for recommendations of films that deal with privacy. I mostly wanted fictional stuff but most of the documentaries are too good not to include (even though I am sure I have missed a lot of documentaries).

The list is by no means complete so please add or send me anything I missed.

You only live once (Lang 1937) Joan Graham (Sylvia Sidney) works as the secretary to the public defender. Unfortunately, she’s fallen madly in love with a criminal by the name of Eddie Taylor (Henry Fonda). Convinced that Eddie is a good man with bad luck, she pulls some strings and gets Eddie released from prison early. The two get married, but while Eddie tries to fly right, he soon discovers he can’t change his nature. His past comes knocking at their door, and the couple is forced to go into hiding.

The Philadelphia Story (Cukor, 1940) This classic romantic comedy focuses on Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn), a Philadelphia socialite who has split from her husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant), due both to his drinking and to her overly demanding nature. As Tracy prepares to wed the wealthy George Kittredge (John Howard), she crosses paths with both Dexter and prying reporter Macaulay Connor (James Stewart). Unclear about her feelings for all three men, Tracy must decide whom she truly loves.

Rear Window (Hitchcock, 1954) Sitting in a wheelchair, his leg in a cast, a photographer (James Stewart) spies on courtyard neighbors and sees a murder.

The Conversation (Coppola, 1974) Surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is hired by a mysterious client’s brusque aide (Harrison Ford) to tail a young couple, Mark (Frederic Forrest) and Ann (Cindy Williams). Tracking the pair through San Francisco’s Union Square, Caul and his associate Stan (John Cazale) manage to record a cryptic conversation between them. Tormented by memories of a previous case that ended badly, Caul becomes obsessed with the resulting tape, trying to determine if the couple are in danger.

All the President’s Men (Pakula, 1976) Two green reporters and rivals working for the Washington Post, Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), research the botched 1972 burglary of the Democratic Party Headquarters at the Watergate apartment complex. With the help of a mysterious source, code-named Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook), the two reporters make a connection between the burglars and a White House staffer. Despite dire warnings about their safety, the duo follows the money all the way to the top.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (Radford, 1984) A man loses his identity while living under a repressive regime. In a story based on George Orwell’s classic novel, Winston Smith (John Hurt) is a government employee whose job involves the rewriting of history in a manner that casts his fictional country’s leaders in a charitable light. His trysts with Julia (Suzanna Hamilton) provide his only measure of enjoyment, but lawmakers frown on the relationship — and in this closely monitored society, there is no escape from Big Brother.

Brazil (Gilliam, 1985) Low-level bureaucrat Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) escapes the monotony of his day-to-day life through a recurring daydream of himself as a virtuous hero saving a beautiful damsel. Investigating a case that led to the wrongful arrest and eventual death of an innocent man instead of wanted terrorist Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro), he meets the woman from his daydream (Kim Greist), and in trying to help her gets caught in a web of mistaken identities, mindless bureaucracy and lies.

The Net (Winkler, 1995) Computer programmer Angela Bennett (Sandra Bullock) starts a new freelance gig and, strangely, all her colleagues start dying. Does it have something to do with the mysterious disc she was given? Her suspicions are raised when, during a trip to Mexico, she’s seduced by a handsome stranger (Jeremy Northam) intent on locating the same disc. Soon Angela is tangled up in a far-reaching conspiracy that leads to her identity being erased. Can she stop the same thing from happening to her life?

Gattaca (Niccol, 1997) Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) has always fantasized about traveling into outer space, but is grounded by his status as a genetically inferior “in-valid.” He decides to fight his fate by purchasing the genes of Jerome Morrow (Jude Law), a laboratory-engineered “valid.” He assumes Jerome’s DNA identity and joins the Gattaca space program, where he falls in love with Irene (Uma Thurman). An investigation into the death of a Gattaca officer (Gore Vidal) complicates Vincent’s plans.

The End of Violence (Wenders, 1997) Producer Mike Max (Bill Pullman) has made a fortune through his gory action flicks, but his own capture at the hands of some thugs causes him to reexamine his role in violent productions. After escaping the crooks, he hides out with a group of gardeners, and eventually decides to drop out of Hollywood and stay with his new protectors. Meanwhile, government surveillance man Ray (Gabriel Byrne) uses a complex network of cameras to spy on Los Angeles, but he is disturbed by his superiors.

The Truman Show (Weir, 1998) He doesn’t know it, but everything in Truman Burbank’s (Jim Carrey) life is part of a massive TV set. Executive producer Christof (Ed Harris) orchestrates “The Truman Show,” a live broadcast of Truman’s every move captured by hidden cameras. Cristof tries to control Truman’s mind, even removing his true love, Sylvia (Natascha McElhone), from the show and replacing her with Meryl (Laura Linney). As Truman gradually discovers the truth, however, he must decide whether to act on it.

Enemy of the State (Scott, 1998) Corrupt National Security Agency official Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight) has a congressman assassinated to assure the passage of expansive new surveillance legislation. When a videotape of the murder ends up in the hands of Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith), a labor lawyer and dedicated family man, he is framed for murder. With the help of ex-intelligence agent Edward “Brill” Lyle (Gene Hackman), Dean attempts to throw Reynolds off his trail and prove his innocence.

Minority Report (Spielberg, 2002) Based on a story by famed science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, “Minority Report” is an action-detective thriller set in Washington D.C. in 2054, where police utilize a psychic technology to arrest and convict murderers before they commit their crime. Tom Cruise plays the head of this Precrime unit and is himself accused of the future murder of a man he hasn’t even met.

Dogville (von Trier, 2004) A barren soundstage is stylishly utilized to create a minimalist small-town setting in which a mysterious woman named Grace (Nicole Kidman) hides from the criminals who pursue her. The town is two-faced and offers to harbor Grace as long as she can make it worth their effort, so Grace works hard under the employ of various townspeople to win their favor. Tensions flare, however, and Grace’s status as a helpless outsider provokes vicious contempt and abuse from the citizens of Dogville.

Code 46 (Winterbottom, 2004) In a dystopian future, insurance fraud investigator William Gold (Tim Robbins) arrives in Shanghai to investigate a forgery ring for “papelles,” futuristic passports that record people’s identities and genetics. Gold falls for Maria Gonzalez (Samantha Morton), the woman in charge of the forgeries. After a passionate affair, Gold returns home, having named a coworker as the culprit. But when one of Gonzalez’s customers is found dead, Gold is sent back to Shanghai to complete the investigation.

Caché (Hidden) (Haneke, 2005) A Parisian couple terrorised by anonymous videos which hint at a long-kept secret.

The Lives of Others (Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006) In 1983 East Berlin, dedicated Stasi officer Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe), doubting that a famous playwright (Sebastian Koch) is loyal to the Communist Party, receives approval to spy on the man and his actress-lover Christa-Maria (Martina Gedeck). Wiesler becomes unexpectedly sympathetic to the couple, then faces conflicting loyalties when his superior takes a liking to Christa-Maria and orders Wiesler to get the playwright out of the way.

Disturbia (Caruso, 2007) Ever since his father died, young Kale (Shia LaBeouf) has become increasingly sullen and withdrawn, until he finds himself under house arrest. With cabin fever setting in, he turns his attention to spying on his neighbors, becoming increasingly suspicious that one of them is a serial killer. However, he wonders if he is right, or if his overactive imagination is getting the better of him.

Look (Rifkin, 2007) Interconnected stories are told entirely through images captured on security cameras in storage rooms, police cars, parking lots, shopping malls and other locations. Store manager Tony (Hayes MacArthur) has affairs with the women who work under him, high schooler Sherri (Spencer Redford) schemes to seduce teacher Berry (Jamie McShane), a pedophile stalks his next victim at a mall food court and two thieves go on a killing spree that links to other tales witnessed by the unseen electronic eyes.

We Live in Public (Timoner, 2009) In 1999, Internet entrepreneur Josh Harris recruits dozens of young men and women who agree to live in underground apartments for weeks at a time while their every movement is broadcast online. Soon, Harris and his girlfriend embark on their own subterranean adventure, with cameras streaming live footage of their meals, arguments, bedroom activities and bathroom habits. This documentary explores the role of technology in our lives, as it charts the fragile nature of dot-com economy.

The Social Network (Fincher, 2010) In 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) begins work on a new concept that eventually turns into the global social network known as Facebook. Six years later, he is one of the youngest billionaires ever, but Zuckerberg finds that his unprecedented success leads to both personal and legal complications when he ends up on the receiving end of two lawsuits, one involving his former friend (Andrew Garfield).

Erasing David (Bond & McDougall, 2010) Dramatized documentary (docufiction) film from the United Kingdom. Stating that as of today the UK is “one of the three most intrusive surveillance states in the world, after China and Russia”, director and performer David Bond tries to put the system to the test. After anonymously setting up private investigators Cerberus Investigations Limited to trace him, he tries to disappear.

Terms and Conditions May Apply (Hoback, 2013) Filmmaker Cullen Hoback exposes the erosion of online privacy and what information governments and corporations are legally taking from citizens each day.

Citizenfour (Poitras, 2014) After Laura Poitras received encrypted emails from someone with information on the government’s massive covert-surveillance programs, she and reporter Glenn Greenwald flew to Hong Kong to meet the sender, who turned out to be Edward Snowden.

Tragic hitchBOT and Camera Surveillance

The hitchhiking robot and social experiment called hitchBot came to an end in Philadelphia this week. It had survived crossing Canada and being in Germany and Italy. But it turns out the US was not friendly enough for it to survive. Message from the family:

hitchBOT’s trip came to an end last night in Philadelphia after having spent a little over two weeks hitchhiking and visiting sites in Boston, Salem, Gloucester, Marblehead, and New York City. Unfortunately, hitchBOT was vandalized overnight in Philadelphia; sometimes bad things happen to good robots.

The bot was a relatively simple device with a vaguely human shape – or more like a rough robot shape; two arms and two legs a torso and a screen for eyes.

The robot was able to carry on basic conversation and talk about factoids, and was designed to be a robotic travelling companion while in the vehicle of the driver who picked it up. It had a GPS device and a 3G connection which allowed researchers to track its location. It was equipped with a camera which took photographs periodically to document its journeys. Wikipedia

It’s sad that the robot was destroyed and it could probably have happened anywhere – even if it did happen in Philly. The interesting part for me is that a couple of days later this surfaces: Here’s Video of the Jerk Who Killed hitchBOT talk about surveillance society.

There is always a camera somewhere. The question is: are we doing anything that makes it worth the effort to find the footage?