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Tap that wire: does our culture undervalue privacy?

QinguQingu Registered User regular
edited July 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
Between Google, Yahoo, and FISA, companies and governments are collecting more information about individuals than ever before. Thirty years ago, wiretapping was widely considered an unconscionable, unconstitutional invasion of privacy. Internet companies routinely log our search habits so that advertisers can better target us, and new laws make it easier than ever for government agencies to spy on our phone and internet habits.

At the same time, we are living in a culture where a tremendous number of celebrities "overshare." Bloggers, myspace and facebook users are often more than happy to report intimate details of their lives. The whole "Real World" has mutated into an entire genre of "reality TV" where an audience is essentially able to spy on the intimate lives of the actors. Most people perform vanity searches on Google, eager to see the extent to which their lives are public—and many individuals seem to equate public visibility with fame.

Can all these new invasions of privacy be partially explained by a broad culture that is simply more comfortable with public visibility? Are individuals more apathetic about laws like FISA (as opposed to our hippie predecessors) because individuals today already expect—and even desire—a certain level of surveillance?

Discuss!

Qingu on
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Posts

  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I will partially play the devil's advocate here, and partially be genuine when I say that I am all for a surveillance state.

    I don't see the big deal with a lack of privacy.

    Loren Michael on
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  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    It's 'cuz you're always hanging out with that goldarn Nonzero crowd!

    Edit: I think the biggest problem with a surveillance state is that many people just don't like being watched.

    That said, many people do clearly like being watched. Which brings up an interesting distinction: surveillance, and the judging of data collected in surveillance. I think surveillance in America would be a lot scarier if, for example, the government was super-religious and frowned upon many of the daily activities that people engage in. But many people don't care about being watched as long as the watchers aren't going to judge or kill them for what they're doing.

    Qingu on
  • PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I will partially play the devil's advocate here, and partially be genuine when I say that I am all for a surveillance state.

    I don't see the big deal with a lack of privacy.

    I find it hard to believe that you've never done or said anything you wouldn't want shown repeatedly on national TV.

    PirateJon on
    all perfectionists are mediocre in their own eyes
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    People don't mind being watched provided they feel they have a choice in the matter or that it doesn't impose on their behavior. Street level CCTV for example, isn't really likely to see anything you would care about it seeing and pretty clearly provides a deterrence/safety measure.

    Someone actively associating my name to my internet behavior on the other hand, bothers me more because it's a circumstance where I don't want personally identifiable information necessarily available to be linked against me, especially because it's a situation where exactly enough information is left out such that there's no context able to be drawn.

    EDIT: I'd also go with Qingu's point - people don't mind being watched provided they feel the watchers are benevolent. I doubt very much anyone feels the government is going to be an impartial or fair judge.

    EDIT 2: If on the other hand, it was something like a Culture mind then I really wouldn't care.

    electricitylikesme on
  • theSquidtheSquid Sydney, AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I don't understand everyone's freaking out over in the UK over CCTV circuits. You're in a public place, right? If you want privacy, you have a house to go to!

    theSquid on
  • RitchmeisterRitchmeister Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Not everyone's freaking out. In fact, I really don't think anyone is.

    Ritchmeister on
  • MendrianMendrian Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I guess there are two broad schools of thought on why surveillance is bad.

    The first assumes that surveillance is step one in removing our liberties, since in order to stop all freedom you need to be able to identify when they are being exercised, especially things like free speech. I suspect this belief is perpetuated by things like 1984, but they don't have to be absolute. In the U.S., we keep defining "terrorism" in more and more broad ways, though I suspect that particular greivance will soon come to an end. Still, the thought that you might say something you previously believed to be innocent - such as, "I wish that President would just die or leave already" - and suddenly there are cops in your house. That's probably an exaggeration, but most fears are.

    The second has something more to do with rights. I think at least as far back as the 60's, there has been a culture - again, at least in the United States, I don't pretend to talk for the world community - that views their rights starting where the limits of the government end. These are the people, for instance, who feel they have a right to organize non-violent rebel groups, or who believe its o.k. to have half a pound of pot under their bed as long as no one sees it. I'm not really sure about this point of view, to be honest. I'm pretty clean, so I have a hard time swallowing the, "I shouldn't be accused of something illegal if the cops aren't physically in my house" line of reasoning, but maybe someone more informed then me can come up with a better argument for it.

    That's how I see it, anyway.

    Mendrian on
  • DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I think part of the apathy regarding surveillance comes from number crunching.

    There are too many people to watch. Even if you allow every phone to be tapped, they only have enough man power to listen to a relatively small percent of them. Therefore, even if the people listening/watching have your every more on tape, they aren't going to even look at it unless you give them a reason to.

    That being said, you do not want to be watched/judged for say being a social or political minority. It all comes down to how the information collected is used.

    If government says they want to watch everyone so they can catch terrorists, thats fine, but when they use the system for other purposes they better watch their step. As far as I'm concerned it exists to catch terrorists and murderers, not to put video clips of people drunk in the streets on the news destroying their image.

    The only way I can endorse people spied on is if there is an extremely high level of ethics in place and say full disclosure after two years (or five). They have to make available who decided to watch you/wire tap you, why, what was done with the footage by whom. I want the person analyzing/watching the data and deciding what to watch or do with the information personally responsible. Any and all information collected should be private and subject to strict privacy policies.

    The problem I have with government gaining powers like this is the total lack of personal responsibility. When was the last time someone who was really in charge and fucked up got his ass handed to him?

    Dman on
  • MahnmutMahnmut Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Nah. If you think about it, God is always watching you anyway.

    Mahnmut on
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  • DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Mendrian wrote: »
    I guess there are two broad schools of thought on why surveillance is bad.

    The first assumes that surveillance is step one in removing our liberties, since in order to stop all freedom you need to be able to identify when they are being exercised, especially things like free speech. I suspect this belief is perpetuated by things like 1984, but they don't have to be absolute. In the U.S., we keep defining "terrorism" in more and more broad ways, though I suspect that particular greivance will soon come to an end. Still, the thought that you might say something you previously believed to be innocent - such as, "I wish that President would just die or leave already" - and suddenly there are cops in your house. That's probably an exaggeration, but most fears are.

    The second has something more to do with rights. I think at least as far back as the 60's, there has been a culture - again, at least in the United States, I don't pretend to talk for the world community - that views their rights starting where the limits of the government end. These are the people, for instance, who feel they have a right to organize non-violent rebel groups, or who believe its o.k. to have half a pound of pot under their bed as long as no one sees it. I'm not really sure about this point of view, to be honest. I'm pretty clean, so I have a hard time swallowing the, "I shouldn't be accused of something illegal if the cops aren't physically in my house" line of reasoning, but maybe someone more informed then me can come up with a better argument for it.

    That's how I see it, anyway.

    I have to say, people do have a right to organize non-violent rebel groups. Those groups even have a right to bear arms in the US. This is part of my beef with surveillance. You don't get to judge people. And if you knew about a non-violent rebel group and choose to watch their every more closely you should not get to use that surveillance against them for anything less then a serious felony. If you watch anyone long enough you will catch them speeding/j-walking/parking illegally or whatever.

    Dman on
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    The OP brought up a point about companies collecting information, but really they don't get anything that isn't freely given. Even with the latest YouTube/Viacom judicial hilarity, you agreed to that information being logged when you used the site: it's right there in the terms of service.

    I also find it hilarious when people post incriminating pictures of themselves on Facebook or whatever and then end up getting that used against them in a job interview or security clearance or whatever. "No, they're not "spying" on you, you posted self-incriminating information in a public place, because you're retarded."

    Daedalus on
  • DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    The OP brought up a point about companies collecting information, but really they don't get anything that isn't freely given. Even with the latest YouTube/Viacom judicial hilarity, you agreed to that information being logged when you used the site: it's right there in the terms of service.

    I also find it hilarious when people post incriminating pictures of themselves on Facebook or whatever and then end up getting that used against them in a job interview or security clearance or whatever. "No, they're not "spying" on you, you posted self-incriminating information in a public place, because you're retarded."

    I agree that most of those people are retarded. But what if their face book name is an alias and does not identify them but with some minor detective work a potential employer connects their real name to their alias and then decides not to hire them?

    Are you sure no one could connect your real name to daedalus and use thing's you've posted on PA against you? Should you have to be worrying about that?

    Dman on
  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    My stance on privacy is two-fold. Idealistic and cultural. And neither is very respectful of privacy.

    "Privacy" is a means to an end, and I believe we work at cross-purposes when we forget this and consider it an end unto itself. Privacy is only valuable in what new rights it allows us to envision, or in what harms it allows us to prevent. Privacy in and of itself is at best neutral, but more likely is a tool for the wicked more so than for the virtuous. The default assumption so many people make that "more privacy = good, less = bad" is quite dangerous and I think creates incorrect moral evaluations.

    Our fear of an all-powerful corrupt government that ignores the rights of its citizens to liberty an property is why we have a law forbidding unreasonable search and seizure. The ultimate goal was not that we could all keep our papers and possessions private (because, among other reasons, "private" doesn't just mean "hidden from the government"), but rather that in particular the government could not assume the power to have full access to all of our papers and possessions because such would make liberty and property effectively null and void. In other words, "privacy" is only a useful concept insofar as privacy reasonably and directly prevents and protects other rights. If those other rights aren't in danger, or if the risk to those rights is outweighed by some other factor, the privacy isn't of value.

    Another example is Roe v. Wade. The decision in that case, and the constitutional basis for it, can be summarized thusly: "The Constitution explicitly provides citizens the right to their own religion, their own communications, and their own possessions and papers without undue government interference. This implies that the Constitution generally guarantees personal privacy from government(s). This includes medical decisions. An abortion is a medical decision. Therefore, it is a matter of personal privacy and the government shouldn't interfere."

    The reason I bring it up is because a woman's privacy for medical decisions wasn't really the issue here. Only tangentially. This issue was unwanted pregnancies, reproductive freedom, gender equality, freedom of choice, and so forth. But privacy, as usual, was a means to an end. There are several other cases where the implied "right to privacy," in combination with the 14th, is used as a catch-all to make a decision the Court deems most beneficial but otherwise doesn't have a basis to make. This is a powerful tool, but can be dangerous.

    Here's another theoretical example: a big "privacy" issue is the social security number. For years many people have dogmatically pushed the idea that your SSN should be private. Don't share it, don't give it out, that's dangerous. However, what's dangerous is ID theft, fraud, etc., not somebody knowing a 9-digit number. If I could guarantee you somehow that your SSN could never be used against you, of what value would its privacy be? Again, the privacy itself has no value, only as a means to an end.

    From the cultural perspective, I think the very concept of privacy is disintegrating. Kids are growing up with the whole world in their bedroom via the tubes of the intarwebz. What used to be written in a personal diary by a previous generation is now written on livejournal for the world to see. Social lives play out on MySpace. And their parents are increasingly putting everything from video baby monitors in the bedroom to keystroke monitors on the computer to GPS trackers in the car, and more closely monitoring all of their interactions. I think there are trade-offs, goods and bads here, but the trend will continue. Future generations are likely to grow up in a world where personal privacy, even from authority figures, isn't a concept they've had a chance to consider. Privacy will possibly be increasingly seen as a creepy and scary things for one to want to have.

    tl;dr: Privacy is a proxy for security (or other goals in some cases). If there are better means of security, the privacy is of little value and may be dangerous.

    Yar on
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Dman wrote: »
    Daedalus wrote: »
    The OP brought up a point about companies collecting information, but really they don't get anything that isn't freely given. Even with the latest YouTube/Viacom judicial hilarity, you agreed to that information being logged when you used the site: it's right there in the terms of service.

    I also find it hilarious when people post incriminating pictures of themselves on Facebook or whatever and then end up getting that used against them in a job interview or security clearance or whatever. "No, they're not "spying" on you, you posted self-incriminating information in a public place, because you're retarded."

    I agree that most of those people are retarded. But what if their face book name is an alias and does not identify them but with some minor detective work a potential employer connects their real name to their alias and then decides not to hire them?

    Are you sure no one could connect your real name to daedalus and use thing's you've posted on PA against you? Should you have to be worrying about that?
    Honestly, I assume it. Hell, from the information here alone, anyone with the staff list where I work would be able to indentify me if they tried reasonably hard. That's why I haven't posted anything that I've been told not to talk about, even though it would probably make for a fun debate thread.

    Basically, if you aren't using anonimizing proxies and being careful not to reveal any personal information, just assume that everyone knows who you are.

    Daedalus on
  • SeptusSeptus Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    I also find it hilarious when people post incriminating pictures of themselves on Facebook or whatever and then end up getting that used against them in a job interview or security clearance or whatever. "No, they're not "spying" on you, you posted self-incriminating information in a public place, because you're retarded."

    I think the bigger annoyance to people is the employers judging their worth as an employee based on their personal life. Doing drugs while being videotaped is one thing, but I can understand people not being happy that they don't get a job because they like to go out and get drunk at bars in the evenings.

    There's an easy solution, keep the pictures hidden, but should they have to?

    Septus on
    PSN: Kurahoshi1
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Septus wrote: »
    Daedalus wrote: »
    I also find it hilarious when people post incriminating pictures of themselves on Facebook or whatever and then end up getting that used against them in a job interview or security clearance or whatever. "No, they're not "spying" on you, you posted self-incriminating information in a public place, because you're retarded."

    I think the bigger annoyance to people is the employers judging their worth as an employee based on their personal life. Doing drugs while being videotaped is one thing, but I can understand people not being happy that they don't get a job because they like to go out and get drunk at bars in the evenings.

    There's an easy solution, keep the pictures hidden, but should they have to?

    Man, if you can't keep embarrasing details about yourself out of public viewing, do you really deserve a security clearance or the private sector equivalent?

    Daedalus on
  • SeptusSeptus Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Daedalus wrote: »
    Man, if you can't keep embarrasing details about yourself out of public viewing, do you really deserve a security clearance or the private sector equivalent?

    It's not even a clearance issue. You could get turned down for a boring desk job shuffling papers, because your boss knows that you like get rowdy and drunk in your downtime. I'd like to think that such activities would have no bearing on your job, if all of your previous employers say you do very good work, and don't come to the workplace drunk or hungover etc. So then you're hiding something that you don't think you should have to hide.

    Septus on
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  • PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Mendrian wrote: »
    The first assumes that surveillance is step one in removing our liberties, since in order to stop all freedom you need to be able to identify when they are being exercised, especially things like free speech. I suspect this belief is perpetuated by things like 1984, but they don't have to be absolute. In the U.S., we keep defining "terrorism" in more and more broad ways, though I suspect that particular greivance will soon come to an end. Still, the thought that you might say something you previously believed to be innocent - such as, "I wish that President would just die or leave already" - and suddenly there are cops in your house. That's probably an exaggeration, but most fears are.

    Exaggeration? The FBI tried to blackmail M.L. King to replace him with someone 'more manageable' for fucks sake. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO

    There are verified reports of government agents doing those same tactics today - against anti-war and anti-globalisation activists.
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/07/28/SURVEILLANCE.TMP

    PirateJon on
    all perfectionists are mediocre in their own eyes
  • DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Yar wrote: »
    My stance on privacy is two-fold. Idealistic and cultural. And neither is very respectful of privacy.

    tl;dr: Privacy is a proxy for security (or other goals in some cases). If there are better means of security, the privacy is of little value and may be dangerous.

    Some rights and securities are difficult to guarantee by any other means. And laws are so out-dated they don't reflect modern society, like sodomy laws for example (still on the books in some states). I would say privacy is not a positive thing unto itself, but it is being eroded far faster then it is being replaced by rights and securities.

    Also, it is easy to selectively enforce laws simply by scrutinizing a person or group more closely, the more you use surveillance the more likely this is to happen (see my first post in this thread).

    As septus points out, privacy protects you from being discriminated against for using legal but morally questionable substances like alcohol. We are taking away the privacy, but where is the protection against being discriminated against for drinking or smoking or whatever going to come from? And even ignoring employment, what if potential health insurance companies google you and see you drinking or smoking or whatever in pictures on the internet and decide not to give you coverage.

    Admittedly facebook is throwing your privacy away, say instead someone else video tapes you and puts it on the internet without your permission and you happen to be wearing a name tag while on a smoke break or something.

    Dman on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited July 2008
    Yar wrote: »
    tl;dr: Privacy is a proxy for security (or other goals in some cases). If there are better means of security, the privacy is of little value and may be dangerous.

    I sort of agree. Sort of. I think that in as judgmental society as ours is, privacy is useful in allowing you to do as you please without having to worry that some snoopy fellow somewhere is going to be watching you and passing judgment. It's not unreasonable for me to want an assurance of privacy when I'm pooping noisily, when I'm wanking off, when I'm buying porn online, when I'm engaging in kinky escapades with my wife, when I'm picking my nose, etc. Because, whether for good or ill, lots of people who saw those things would judge me unfavorably. And I'm justified in wanting to avoid such judgment.

    I don't care if I'm being watched when I'm driving to work, or sitting in my house watching Lost. I do care if I'm being watched when I'm engaging in more private activities. Moreover, I want the freedom to engage in those private activities on a whim, when and where I please, to the extent that I'm in the privacy of my own house, or in a hotel room, and so on. I guess you can argue this is still a case of privacy as proxy for something else, but I think the something else gets pretty fuzzy, here. I think it's more useful as shorthand to just say privacy is an end unto itself.

    ElJeffe on
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  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Yar wrote: »
    My stance on privacy is two-fold. Idealistic and cultural. And neither is very respectful of privacy.
    I think your analysis undervalues what I will loosely term "alone time."

    I'm in a wonderful loving relationship and I have some great close friends. But sometimes—especially when I'm stressed, or want to write creatively*—I want to get the fuck away from other people and their prying eyes, even my friends and girlfriend. I am admittedly pretty anti-social, but I don't think I'm alone, and I would question whether this desire for "alone time" runs deeper than cultural trappings that can be eradicated when the next generation becomes more accustomed to surveillance.

    In fact, this is basically the whole reason why I'm incredibly wary of Facebook and Myspace. The whole idea of becoming a node in a human network freaks me out. I think there's probably always been tension between "loners" and "society," and many types of societies have looked on loners with suspicion or even ostracized them. But I have sympathy for loners, and you need some semblance of privacy to be a loner.

    There's also the question of fear of embarassment—but this could be ameliorated if society evolves to simply not care as much about embarassing things.

    *
    or smoke pot, which admittingly gives some ammo to your argument, Yar.

    Qingu on
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    PirateJon wrote: »
    I will partially play the devil's advocate here, and partially be genuine when I say that I am all for a surveillance state.

    I don't see the big deal with a lack of privacy.

    I find it hard to believe that you've never done or said anything you wouldn't want shown repeatedly on national TV.

    I'm sure I've done plenty, really. It's not going to be on national TV though. Even in a surveillance state, it's not going to be on TV. Even assuming that there's no privacy whatsoever--that the public sphere intrudes even into our homes (which I do not personally think is ideal, but I use it for the sake of this argument)--it's not going to be on TV. At best, it'll be on YouTube (or YouKu in China!), and it'll be stacked up against millions of others who are probably far more interesting than me.
    theSquid wrote: »
    I don't understand everyone's freaking out over in the UK over CCTV circuits. You're in a public place, right? If you want privacy, you have a house to go to!

    This is pretty much where I stand. I don't want to hijack this thread into my own pet issue, but I think this subject is overlapping it sufficiently that it won't be a problem: My, I think, ideal state would be one where the entirety of the public space was monitored and recorded by layers upon layers of surveillance cameras that were all open to public access.

    Loren Michael on
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  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    This is pretty much where I stand. I don't want to hijack this thread into my own pet issue, but I think this subject is overlapping it sufficiently that it won't be a problem: My, I think, ideal state would be one where the entirety of the public space was monitored and recorded by layers upon layers of surveillance cameras that were all open to public access.
    What exactly constitutes "public space" for you?

    Clearly the Chinese have rubbed off on you!

    Qingu on
  • PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    PirateJon wrote: »
    I will partially play the devil's advocate here, and partially be genuine when I say that I am all for a surveillance state.

    I don't see the big deal with a lack of privacy.

    I find it hard to believe that you've never done or said anything you wouldn't want shown repeatedly on national TV.

    I'm sure I've done plenty, really. It's not going to be on national TV though. Even in a surveillance state, it's not going to be on TV. Even assuming that there's no privacy whatsoever--that the public sphere intrudes even into our homes (which I do not personally think is ideal, but I use it for the sake of this argument)--it's not going to be on TV. At best, it'll be on YouTube (or YouKu in China!), and it'll be stacked up against millions of others who are probably far more interesting than me.
    You don't get to decide what comes out when. By giving up privacy, you've abdicated that right. This is a binary choice - either you're 100% OK with everything you do being on the public record, or you aren't.

    theSquid wrote: »
    I don't understand everyone's freaking out over in the UK over CCTV circuits. You're in a public place, right? If you want privacy, you have a house to go to!

    This is pretty much where I stand. I don't want to hijack this thread into my own pet issue, but I think this subject is overlapping it sufficiently that it won't be a problem: My, I think, ideal state would be one where the entirety of the public space was monitored and recorded by layers upon layers of surveillance cameras that were all open to public access.
    Why? it has zero effect on crime.

    PirateJon on
    all perfectionists are mediocre in their own eyes
  • DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    This is pretty much where I stand. I don't want to hijack this thread into my own pet issue, but I think this subject is overlapping it sufficiently that it won't be a problem: My, I think, ideal state would be one where the entirety of the public space was monitored and recorded by layers upon layers of surveillance cameras that were all open to public access.

    That might at first sound good in theory but there is a reason the public doesn't get access to cameras like that. Joe boss could go home and flip through security tape recordings of what his employee's do after work and decide who he feels like firing or giving a raise to entirely based on what they do after work in public. I'm sure there are far worse examples.

    Dman on
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Actually, I was thinking about an emergent hive-mind, and a publicly controlled surveillance state seemed like a natural extension of that. So blame NonZero again.

    :P

    But my rough definition (probably worth hashing out) would be anywhere not inside a home or business (though, of course, businesses could certainly opt in). Public schools and similar institutions could conceivably have a good argument for their exemption as well, but I'm not sure of the strength of those arguments.

    Loren Michael on
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  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Dman wrote: »
    This is pretty much where I stand. I don't want to hijack this thread into my own pet issue, but I think this subject is overlapping it sufficiently that it won't be a problem: My, I think, ideal state would be one where the entirety of the public space was monitored and recorded by layers upon layers of surveillance cameras that were all open to public access.

    That might at first sound good in theory but there is a reason the public doesn't get access to cameras like that. Joe boss could go home and flip through security tape recordings of what his employee's do after work and decide who he feels like firing or giving a raise to entirely based on what they do after work in public. I'm sure there are far worse examples.

    Sure. I'm not sure how acceptable such practices would be though, in the public, legal, or intellectual spheres (is it realy smart for employees to be doing that?) For that matter, victims of those practices could turn a retaliatory sharp eye on said employers and/or create public outcry.

    Loren Michael on
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  • mantidormantidor Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I think the privacy issue is more a symptom of things that are wrong in society rather that the problem itself. In a perfect utopian society privacy wouldn't matter at all. First you wouldn't had anything to hide, second no one would actually care about the details of your daily life.

    Something like the fact that you can put your job at risk if your sexual orientation is revealed or that the american audience is thrilled to watch how some celebrity puked at some party are partly solved enforcing privacy but the real problems are still there.

    mantidor on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Actually, I was thinking about an emergent hive-mind, and a publicly controlled surveillance state seemed like a natural extension of that. So blame NonZero again.

    :P

    But my rough definition (probably worth hashing out) would be anywhere not inside a home or business (though, of course, businesses could certainly opt in). Public schools and similar institutions could conceivably have a good argument for their exemption as well, but I'm not sure of the strength of those arguments.

    I'll repeat my argument that I stated in [chat] the last time you brought this up. A surveillance state could theoretically protect the citizenry from the abuse of power as much as it could protect them from crime. A police beating could be taped and exposed, for instance. The problem is that a perfect system that watches both the powerful and the powerless is essentially impossible, and any system would be open to abuse. Whoever controls the cameras would be able to control access and control the archives, which means there will always be a class of people who have the ability to dodge surveillance and that class would contain those people who are already in power.

    Consequently, a surveillance state will always result in the widening of existing power gaps.

    I really really really urge you to read Foucault's Discipline and Punish or else a good meaty synopsis of it (because reading Foucault's work itself is about as fun as sandpapering your balls).

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Feral wrote: »
    Actually, I was thinking about an emergent hive-mind, and a publicly controlled surveillance state seemed like a natural extension of that. So blame NonZero again.

    :P

    But my rough definition (probably worth hashing out) would be anywhere not inside a home or business (though, of course, businesses could certainly opt in). Public schools and similar institutions could conceivably have a good argument for their exemption as well, but I'm not sure of the strength of those arguments.

    I'll repeat my argument that I stated in [chat] the last time you brought this up. A surveillance state could theoretically protect the citizenry from the abuse of power as much as it could protect them from crime. A police beating could be taped and exposed, for instance. The problem is that a perfect system that watches both the powerful and the powerless is essentially impossible, and any system would be open to abuse. Whoever controls the cameras would be able to control access and control the archives, which means there will always be a class of people who have the ability to dodge surveillance and that class would contain those people who are already in power.

    Consequently, a surveillance state will always result in the widening of existing power gaps.

    Isn't this argument appropriate for essentially any government program? My interpretation of what you just said is, people with access can and/or will abuse the system, ergo it widens power gaps. Corruption is a problem always, yes. My understanding is that this means that countermeasures are necessary.

    And sorry to beg you to debate my fantasy, but my suggestion includes an enormous amount of surveillance, such that cameras would be covered by other cameras, and areas would be covered by multiple cameras. Blackouts to specific regions would, as a result, be highly suspect and readily noticed. If communications are sufficiently advanced in tandem with surveillance, then the problem is largely mitigated by rapid public outcry and response.

    Wow I'm tired. I think that made sense, but I gotta go to bed. More tomorrow.

    Loren Michael on
    a7iea7nzewtq.jpg
  • AdrienAdrien Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Feral wrote: »
    Actually, I was thinking about an emergent hive-mind, and a publicly controlled surveillance state seemed like a natural extension of that. So blame NonZero again.

    :P

    But my rough definition (probably worth hashing out) would be anywhere not inside a home or business (though, of course, businesses could certainly opt in). Public schools and similar institutions could conceivably have a good argument for their exemption as well, but I'm not sure of the strength of those arguments.

    I'll repeat my argument that I stated in [chat] the last time you brought this up. A surveillance state could theoretically protect the citizenry from the abuse of power as much as it could protect them from crime. A police beating could be taped and exposed, for instance. The problem is that a perfect system that watches both the powerful and the powerless is essentially impossible, and any system would be open to abuse. Whoever controls the cameras would be able to control access and control the archives, which means there will always be a class of people who have the ability to dodge surveillance and that class would contain those people who are already in power.

    Consequently, a surveillance state will always result in the widening of existing power gaps.

    I really really really urge you to read Foucault's Discipline and Punish or else a good meaty synopsis of it (because reading Foucault's work itself is about as fun as sandpapering your balls).

    I'd recommend Earth, by David Brin. They have a sort of distributed system in the form of old people with nothing better to do. Big Brother meets the neighborhood watch.

    Adrien on
    tmkm.jpg
  • DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Feral wrote: »
    Actually, I was thinking about an emergent hive-mind, and a publicly controlled surveillance state seemed like a natural extension of that. So blame NonZero again.

    :P

    But my rough definition (probably worth hashing out) would be anywhere not inside a home or business (though, of course, businesses could certainly opt in). Public schools and similar institutions could conceivably have a good argument for their exemption as well, but I'm not sure of the strength of those arguments.

    I'll repeat my argument that I stated in [chat] the last time you brought this up. A surveillance state could theoretically protect the citizenry from the abuse of power as much as it could protect them from crime. A police beating could be taped and exposed, for instance. The problem is that a perfect system that watches both the powerful and the powerless is essentially impossible, and any system would be open to abuse. Whoever controls the cameras would be able to control access and control the archives, which means there will always be a class of people who have the ability to dodge surveillance and that class would contain those people who are already in power.

    Consequently, a surveillance state will always result in the widening of existing power gaps.

    Isn't this argument appropriate for essentially any government program? My interpretation of what you just said is, people with access can and/or will abuse the system, ergo it widens power gaps. Corruption is a problem always, yes. My understanding is that this means that countermeasures are necessary.

    And sorry to beg you to debate my fantasy, but my suggestion includes an enormous amount of surveillance, such that cameras would be covered by other cameras, and areas would be covered by multiple cameras. Blackouts to specific regions would, as a result, be highly suspect and readily noticed. If communications are sufficiently advanced in tandem with surveillance, then the problem is largely mitigated by rapid public outcry and response.

    Wow I'm tired. I think that made sense, but I gotta go to bed. More tomorrow.

    So in your world, we basically just say anyone can install a camera in any public space with wireless access that anyone can tap into and watch? It seems kinda crazy. Who will be watching all these cameras? And how will you let the light of day into your home without inviting the world to use the many public space cameras to invade your privacy?

    Dman on
  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Dman wrote: »
    This is pretty much where I stand. I don't want to hijack this thread into my own pet issue, but I think this subject is overlapping it sufficiently that it won't be a problem: My, I think, ideal state would be one where the entirety of the public space was monitored and recorded by layers upon layers of surveillance cameras that were all open to public access.

    That might at first sound good in theory but there is a reason the public doesn't get access to cameras like that. Joe boss could go home and flip through security tape recordings of what his employee's do after work and decide who he feels like firing or giving a raise to entirely based on what they do after work in public. I'm sure there are far worse examples.

    Sure. I'm not sure how acceptable such practices would be though, in the public, legal, or intellectual spheres (is it realy smart for employees to be doing that?) For that matter, victims of those practices could turn a retaliatory sharp eye on said employers and/or create public outcry.

    They already do it via other avenues, Loren. More to the point, how would you prove they'd done so? It'd be worse than trying to prove a discrimination claim, and that's pretty bitchy by itself.

    Hell, for that matter they could use it to discriminate. Monitor the local church's parking lots, and only hire people that show up on those cameras for services. Atheist? Non-practicing religious? Sorry!

    Given the ACTUAL abuses of power committed by governments all the time, giving them all-encompassing surveillance powers seems like a horrendously bad idea. The potential for abuse far outweighs the potential gains. Giving corporations or private citizens the same thing would be even more of a nightmare. Do you really want every stalking victim's every move broadcasted for their stalker to follow?

    Phoenix-D on
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Dman wrote: »
    So in your world, we basically just say anyone can install a camera in any public space with wireless access that anyone can tap into and watch? It seems kinda crazy. Who will be watching all these cameras? And how will you let the light of day into your home without inviting the world to use the many public space cameras to invade your privacy?
    I think this is where analogies to 1984 start to fail. Obviously, someone wouldn't be watching all these cameras at once. But they would be recording, and tagging and labelling the information they record for later searches. If this is really The Future we could even write various types of algorithms trained to recognize certain images or audio cues in the stuff they record.

    So even if there is too much information out there for all the spies to be watching at once, you could still have a pretty potentially oppressive system with modern search functions interacting with that information.

    Qingu on
  • AdrienAdrien Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Phoenix-D wrote: »

    They already do it via other avenues, Loren. More to the point, how would you prove they'd done so? It'd be worse than trying to prove a discrimination claim, and that's pretty bitchy by itself.

    Hell, for that matter they could use it to discriminate. Monitor the local church's parking lots, and only hire people that show up on those cameras for services. Atheist? Non-practicing religious? Sorry!

    Given the ACTUAL abuses of power committed by governments all the time, giving them all-encompassing surveillance powers seems like a horrendously bad idea. The potential for abuse far outweighs the potential gains. Giving corporations or private citizens the same thing would be even more of a nightmare. Do you really want every stalking victim's every move broadcasted for their stalker to follow?

    The complete elimination of crime? I mean, let's keep it in perspective here.

    Example, your stalker hypothesis: Does it matter, since the restraining order can be perfectly enforced?

    Adrien on
    tmkm.jpg
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Isn't this argument appropriate for essentially any government program? My interpretation of what you just said is, people with access can and/or will abuse the system, ergo it widens power gaps. Corruption is a problem always, yes. My understanding is that this means that countermeasures are necessary.

    Yes, it would be appropriate for almost any government program, but it is significantly more important for some programs than for others. If a hypothetical panopticon state were implemented from wholecloth with this potential for abuse in mind, with checks and balances built into the process, and not a single camera turned on or a single event recorded until, essentially, a constitution and bill of rights were ratified ensuring that the watchers are themselves watched, then my argument would not apply.

    However, that's not realistic. Surveillance is implemented piecemeal, as a tool given to existing law enforcement, with little transparency behind the cameras, and little thought given to the potential for abuse.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I'm actually convinced that this would work with AI robots.
    Most things would.

    Qingu on
  • PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Adrien wrote: »
    Phoenix-D wrote: »

    They already do it via other avenues, Loren. More to the point, how would you prove they'd done so? It'd be worse than trying to prove a discrimination claim, and that's pretty bitchy by itself.

    Hell, for that matter they could use it to discriminate. Monitor the local church's parking lots, and only hire people that show up on those cameras for services. Atheist? Non-practicing religious? Sorry!

    Given the ACTUAL abuses of power committed by governments all the time, giving them all-encompassing surveillance powers seems like a horrendously bad idea. The potential for abuse far outweighs the potential gains. Giving corporations or private citizens the same thing would be even more of a nightmare. Do you really want every stalking victim's every move broadcasted for their stalker to follow?

    The complete elimination of crime? I mean, let's keep it in perspective here.

    Example, your stalker hypothesis: Does it matter, since the restraining order can be perfectly enforced?
    Eliminate crime? WTF, we can't even do that in prisons. At best it would help investigations after the fact. At best (see the UK CCTV nightmare)


    Don't be fooled - this isn't to protect you. It's to protect the government FROM you.

    PirateJon on
    all perfectionists are mediocre in their own eyes
  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Adrien wrote: »
    Phoenix-D wrote: »

    They already do it via other avenues, Loren. More to the point, how would you prove they'd done so? It'd be worse than trying to prove a discrimination claim, and that's pretty bitchy by itself.

    Hell, for that matter they could use it to discriminate. Monitor the local church's parking lots, and only hire people that show up on those cameras for services. Atheist? Non-practicing religious? Sorry!

    Given the ACTUAL abuses of power committed by governments all the time, giving them all-encompassing surveillance powers seems like a horrendously bad idea. The potential for abuse far outweighs the potential gains. Giving corporations or private citizens the same thing would be even more of a nightmare. Do you really want every stalking victim's every move broadcasted for their stalker to follow?

    The complete elimination of crime? I mean, let's keep it in perspective here.

    Example, your stalker hypothesis: Does it matter, since the restraining order can be perfectly enforced?

    Yes, it does. Because the cameras won't stop crime- they'll just help you find the attacker after the fact. Which is a little bit too late. Meanwhile you've given them perfect information on the victim(s).

    Phoenix-D on
  • Panda4YouPanda4You Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I'm too damn lazy to find a link right now, but wasn't there this study that showed how putting up working street lights had bigger impact on crime than UK's street camera system?
    Surveillance is costly and most often used as as a voting lure.

    Panda4You on
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