Digital Environment and Privacy



I have found the discussion of the Digital Environment and privacy to be a fascinating one. On a personal level I like the idea of being anonymous, for no particular reason other than I like the idea of being free.

I realise with the advent of new technologies of identification, anonymity may be increasingly difficult to achieve in an information age.  I can see why video surveillance is seen as the answer to much insecurity, especially in regards to crime.  Here in Ireland, we seem to have embraced this technology with great enthusiasm and little public objection. I was not familiar with Bentham’s Panopticon Writings previously and while I see why his initial concept of panopticon was perceived in relation to the prisons system.   I feel the ultimate aim of the surveillance in the Panopticon, as derived by Foucault, to instill in people the fear of being watched is far too controlling and ‘big brother’- almost like we as individuals are in prison constantly.

I know as individuals we sometimes take for granted the privacy of our communications. Recent cases where investigative reporters have gone too far, violating privacy in the quest for a story serve as a reminder that our privacy can be evaded easily. I can see why critics of strong protection have argued that privacy competes with other social values and equally why proponents of Taylorism would advocate less protection for business efficiency.

The issue of control or care is central here. Are we being protected by the use of surveillance technologies or does their imposed presence modify our behaviour by making us believe that we ‘may’ be being watched. If we intend to do nothing wrong then what is the problem with surveillance technologies, but as our private space is increasingly being encroached upon, perhaps by the cameras at airports now that will penetrate clothing or by the ability of an employer to ‘see’ what we are doing at all time.

Furthermore, I personally have a strong issue with people taking photos of me and then uploading them online without my permission. I don’t even let people in my personal life to do so but of late I am increasingly feeling a bit bullied when people do so. In the end of the day I have rights to privacy and no means no, so am not sure why this is becoming a common occurrence. Where and how we draw a line to suggest that such a constant stream of data that effectively makes us more and more visible should be stemmed is often a question that is rarely posed, never mind addressed.




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