How Far Can They GO??

How Far Can They GO??

Mass Surveillance is the act of observing large segments of people or groups without any set system to do so. It usually interferes with the peoples’ rights to privacy. Any attempt to collect data of a group or individuals without any measures taken to limit the acquired data to specific target public or individual is a form of mass surveillance.

With the use of this method, the government can now monitor any sphere of our lives without us even knowing about it. With the help of today’s technology governments all across the globe are obtaining and processing data from huge numbers of people without even them being accused of any crime or wrong doing. Due to this the government has attained immense amounts of power over the general public.

CCTV Warning ( CC 2.0 By Flickr)

Practice of mass surveillance by the government is not recent. This is been carried out for a long time in the history of surveillance. Some old methods of mass surveillance include tattooing people for recognition, numbering and putting people under categories, censuses and ID documenting. Presently, mass surveillance has become really easy in public places with the help of installation of closed circuit television cameras (CCTV).

The latest forms of surveillance via the government on the public is monitoring their communication patterns, which includes what we do on our phones and other digital devices like computers, Ipads and so on. I recently tweeted about it to seek public opinion about the government invading privacy. The results are below.

(Twitter @shivi2016)

Is it Ethical to do so? When is surveillance appropriate?

M.I.T. professor Gary Marx presented an argument about it (An Ethics for the New Surveillance, Vol. 14, No. 3) saying that we should measure and evaluate methods of mass surveillance before its implication on people. This can be done by asking a number of questions about the means, data collection context and the uses of that data.

There have been many protests by the public against the government for this reason. The government usually gets away from such protests by saying things along the lines of “If you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.”


A counter argument to this presented by Edward Snowden saying that “… If you don’t support freedom of speech, maybe it’s because you have nothing to say” (Snowden Article).

Although, mass surveillance can be used in a positive manner; anti- terrorism, census and crime statistics. It helps the government to stop major organized crimes like human trafficking across international borders, drug trades and so on. I have also talked about police surveillance in my podcast below and few other government surveillance examples across the globe.

Podcast Shivangi Sharma

Government surveillance does work in favor of people sometimes but in this process the government is collecting large amounts of data which can used or abused according the circumstances. This makes people vulnerable to the government. I recently watched a famous talk show TED Talk .Christopher Soghoian talks about software the governmnet is adopting. It is really interesting to know how and to what extent we can be monitored!

Twitter @shivi2016

They can control our lives. They have the ability to know exactly what any innocent individuals are doing at any point in time, even if they are in their own home, just like you and me!




YOU are being Watched!

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CCTV Cameras (CC by 2.0)

In the past two decades, there have been a huge technological transformation in the digital media. Surveillance industry have benefited from this transformation a lot. If we rewind our lives and think about the time when we were in school. Things were different. If I think of my time in my preschool there were no surveillance cameras installed in my school. As the years passed by there was transformation in security and surveillance system. The cameras and microphones were installed in my school. The scenario was same in my surroundings with camera getting installed on the street, on the traffic lights, offices and so on. The digitization bought boom in the surveillance industry and practices.

Present day situation is that we are under surveillance one way or the other most of the time of the day. I study in Deakin university Melbourne Campus. I noticed the number of cameras installed in the campus while walking through it. There are so many cameras even in places I didn’t even expect!

Mobile phones have become ubiquitous and basic communications tools—now used not only for phone calls, but also for accessing the Internet, sending text messages, and documenting the world(Surveillance Self-Defense)

Application culture is also based on surveillance. Apps like Uber, Google Maps, Tinder, Bank apps, they all use surveillance as their basic feature to function on everyday basis. I lost my new phone recently and I was really worried about it. I started researching it online as to how can track my phone. I tried finding it through ‘find my phone’ but the phone was off, so no luck!

I keep researching about it and finally found a way I can track it. “Google Maps” was the answer to all my prayers. There is a feature called ‘Timeline’ in this app which allows us to track our every 24-hour movement. In this case our digital device be it phone and laptop acts as a GPS tracking devices. It reads and store all our movement throughout the day. I was never aware of this feature. Such features can be benefitted in times like this.

I also ran a poll on twitter asking people about surveillance with apps beneficial to us or not.

63% of them voted for it be useful, another 24% agreed on a maybe and rest 13% said that it wasn’t useful. Surveillance and app culture are going well together. A majority of apps are using surveillance as their prime function to work.

Another very famous application based on surveillance is Pokémon Go. People are going mad playing it. The game functions on surveillance. It shows real life location and the layout of the game is based on it. When we play it we are connected to the pokemon server which detect our location via our digital device and create a layout of the game for us to play. This game is being a huge success.

With such great accessibility comes some drawbacks, some of the people misuse this surveillance practices like people making fake profiles of you. There was a tweet made by famous rapper B.o.B in recent past about ‘snapchat’ using filters to build a face recognition database. This issue was in news for a while. When asked by snapchat they denied the fact.

But the question arises in our mind sometimes “Is someone watching us right now?”.

Surveillance is a boon to the society but also a curse sometimes!