Friday, June 22, 2018

#173 / Surveillance And Sousveillance

David Brin, whom I have mentioned before, is shown here on June 17, 2018, as he was "robing up" for the Crown College graduation ceremonies. 

Brin has done a lot of writing about a lot of things, but I have been particularly interested in his writings on the interrelationships between "Privacy, Technology, And Freedom." I will be teaching a Legal Studies course at UCSC this Fall, focused on that very topic. 

Brin's 1999 book, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us To Choose Between Privacy And Freedom?, is well worth reading. Today, the question he poses in his title confronts us, even more, than it did in 1999. For those not wanting to take on a whole book, here is a link to an article that appeared in Wired magazine in 1996, written at a time when Brin was working on his book. It is a short article, and it makes his main argument very well. 

What is that argument? 

Brin is arguing that we need to combat surveillance (particularly government surveillance) with sousveillance. That means that we need to be "watching from below." Those being watched need to be able to watch right back! 

The use of video cameras, by citizens, to document police brutality, is an example of what Brin was talking about long before #BlackLivesMatter and Facebook Live

We definitely need to be talking about "sousveillance" - and doing something about it! We need to be making sure that we, the citizens, are watching the corporate and government watchers who are watching us!

Image Credit:
Gary Patton personal photo

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this citation Gary. I've reserved it from the library.

    This is especially pertinent to local city and county government. I've noticed that more and more of our local government business is being planned and decided behind closed doors, to be trotted out before the public for us to rubber stamp their predetermined plans.

    I'm thinking particularly of the plans for massive development in the "Corridors" projects and the Downtown Library cum parking garage fiasco.

    There has been an increase in "Ad-Hoc" subcommittees in local government, the meetings of which are excluded from public attendance, except when citizens have loudly and publicly insisted that they be open to public observation.

    "It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." – John Philpot Curran: Speech upon the Right of Election for Lord Mayor of Dublin, 1790. (Speeches. Dublin, 1808.) as quoted in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations


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