profile provides a point of entry to other pages of this
site, bringing together writing about privacy, secrecy,
governance and information sharing.
It offers snapshots covering issues and literature regarding
the 'surveillance state' (whether involving government
agencies or the media), identity schemes such as passports
and national identification cards, consumer profiling,
whistleblowing, biometrics and other authentication technologies.
The following pages cover -
- the notion of the 'surveillance state' has been a
major feature of recent debate about privacy and the
governance of cyberspace, with claims for example that
US citizens want protection from government more than
from business. This page comments on the extensive literature
about the 'invisible government' and questions some
myths about 'police states' (which in practice were
- as a German policeman once said, you are who your
papers say you are. Take away those papers and you have
no identity. This page provides an overview ofpassports,
national identity cards and private cards. It also considers
fingerprinting, bertillonage, DNA registers and tattooing.
- this page looks at biometrics (face-cams, retina scans
etc) and other technological fixes, such as US proposals
for a subcutaneous chip in every citizen.
- community ambivalence about privacy is demonstrated
by what's claimed as the rise of the 'tabloid tv generation',
with a supposedly insatiable appetite for information
about the private lives of other people. This page looks
at the media and community attitudes, questioning some
claims about recent developments and considering mechanisms
such as media self-regulation and anti-paparazzi legislation
- this page highlights fiction about surveillance and
identity, from ETA Hoffmann and Herman Melville to Kafka,
1984 and beyond
- and a similarly eclectic study of film, embracing
Men in Black, Enemy of the State, Zorro,
Gattaca, The Truman Show and The Return of Martin
- some pointers to writing about the net and conspiracy
theory, highlighting sociological studies, opinion polls
and some of the more entertaining theories (eg ICANN's
fleet of black helicopter gunships)
- who needs spies when you can rely on neighbours, colleagues
- the private sector surveillance business
- a map of the plethora of surveillance agencies
- electronic interception mechanisms
- national and international surveilance data sharing
- vetting, audience measurement, credit referencing,
opinion polling and other nongovernment surveillance
grid - surveillance, survivalism and life 'off the
in the history of surveillance.
supplements the guides dealing with Privacy,
Security & Infocrime
and Wired Consumers,
in particular the pages concerned with anonymity, trust
For the moment the Privacy
guide points to basic works such as Oscar Gandy's The
Panoptic Sort: A Political Economy of Personal Information
(Boulder: Westview 1992), Daniel Solove's The Digital
Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age
(New York: New York Uni Press 2004) and The Future
of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy on the Internet
(New Haven: Yale Uni Press 2007), Lee Bygrave's Data
Protection Law: Approaching Its Rationale, Logic &
Limits (The Hague: Kluwer Law 2002), Jürgen Habermas's
problematical The Structural Transformation of the
Public Sphere (Cambridge: MIT Press 1989) and the
multi-volume A History of Private Life (Cambridge:
Belknap Press 1987- ) under the general editorship of
Philippe Aries & Georges Duby.
Authentication of an individual's identity is generally
dependent on one or more of three factors, essentially
that you have - a drivers licence, a passport, an ID
tag, an ATM card, a PKI certificate or even a chip under
that you know - for example a password or PIN
something you are - your fingerprint, DNA, iris pattern
or even (on the wilder shores of biometrics) your smell
identification can form the basis of a surveillance regime,
legitimate or otherwise, that covers individuals or groups
of people - at its bleakest a surveillance state.
Anders Albrechtslund offered
'21 perspectives on surveillance' in 2007 -
The Big Brother perspective
Surveillance is a scary way for the state to intrude
on people’s privacy. Currently, we are on a slippery
slope towards a surveillance society.
2 The control perspective
Surveillance is a way to practice control over individuals
or a group of individuals. Thus, it is a tool to exercise
3 The care perspective
Surveillance is a way to provide care for individuals,
e.g. when parents take care of their children.
4 The ethical perspective
Surveillance changes the power and knowledge relations
between people and, thus, the space for ethical action
5 The security perspective
Surveillance is a way to secure individuals, groups
or the society as a whole. It is a security tool in
the hands of the individual, a group or the state.
6 The preventive perspective
Surveillance in the form of e.g. CCTV is a way for privates,
business or the state to prevent crime or misbehavior
in a certain place or space.
7 The investigative perspective
Surveillance is a tool for the police, other authorities
and even privates to investigate crime and suspicions.
8 The Panoptic perspective
Surveillance is a disciplinary tool, created by Panoptic
architecture, applicable to train workers, students,
soldiers, and many others.
9 The Foucauldian perspective
Surveillance is the way of the disciplinary, prison-like
10 The legal perspective
Surveillance is a threat to the individual's right to
11 The sociological perspective
Surveillance is a way to sort social groups, to include
or exclude, to qualify or disqualify, and to discriminate
between people based on profiles. In this way, a modern
society is by definition a surveillance society.
12 The play, games and leisure perspective
Surveillance is a practice in playful interaction between
individuals or groups, e.g. Monopoly Live and Can You
See Me Know?
13 The paranoid perspective
Surveillance is everywhere and it is a hidden tool for
an extensive conspiracy of agencies, governments, business’
and/or private individuals.
14 The social perspective
Surveillance is a practice by which people engage in
social interaction and networking. By using social software,
e.g. Blogger (writing about my life), Flickr (pictures
of my life), Last.fm (music from my life), Plazes (the
spaces and places of my life), people actively take
part in their own surveillance.
15 The spying perspective
Surveillance is a tool for spying on people, groups,
business’ or governments. By using technologies
and/or human agents, surveillance is a way to obtain
knowledge about e.g. political views, religious beliefs,
business or government secrets, etc.
16 The exhibitionist-voyeuristic perspective
Surveillance is a way to display oneself for and/or
(secretly) watch other people for (erotic) pleasure.
17 The existential perspective
Surveillance is a part of human existence, both as watching
and being watched, and it is therefore a key concept
in understanding human life.
18 The artistic perspective
Surveillance is a way to demonstrate issues of society,
modernity, transparency, etc. in works of art such as
installations (e.g. Nanobots) and happenings (e.g. Surveillance
19 The aesthetic perspective
Surveillance is a theme of suspense and fascination
in literature, poetics, computer games, cinema, etc.
Furthermore, surveillance is an issue in film theory
involving the audience as watchers/voyeurs and the movie
20 The objectivity perspective
Surveillance is a way to monitor objects, e.g. nature,
culture, things, technologies, animals, humans, etc.
21 The subjectivity perspective
Surveillance is a human situation of either watching
others, e.g. as CCTV operator, and/or being watched,
involving issues of emotions, psychology, etc.
next page (surveillance