Group Members: Colin Rothgang, Julius Schneider, Bishwa Thapa, Yufei Liu
[Picture Credit: The Daily Blog]
Although the dire future Orwell depicted did not take place in 1984, the world unfortunately is slowly but steadily moving towards the unfathomable tyranny of global surveillance. Some people are willing to give up part of their privacy because surveillance systems will presumably protect them from crimes which upright citizens will never commit. However, the problem is, we never know when such tools will be used against what they are supposed to protect.
Surveillance is the monitoring of peoples’ behavior or activities. Surveillance can be used for various reasons such as national security, public safety or crime prevention. In recent years there have been public disclosures by whistleblowers of massive strategic surveillance programs by many countries’ secret services including NSA and GCHQ. These disclosures as well as ongoing debates on the installation of new surveillance systems have induced more and more public awareness about surveillance. More or less this is a trade-off between (presumably) better security and privacy concerns. As security is among the most basic human needs and privacy is among the most important human rights, there is no obvious choice.
In class we discussed some approaches to increase public safety, e.g. WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts) and video surveillance systems (see VQiPS and Chicago LTE). Among those technologies equipping the policemen with body cameras seem to be one of smaller-scaled surveillance. And there is a history behind it: In the USA, the idea of equipping policemen with body cameras came from a response to the killing of Michael Brown and in general the high level of discrimination in law enforcement. By such means, it becomes easier to see if a police officer made the right decision under the circumstances. We also discussed the costs and potential benefits of installing CCTVs in specific locations, including our university. Apparently, no one would agree to install cameras everywhere, but some people indeed wish to have a certain degree of surveillance covering the campus due to potential threats such as theft and sexual harassment.
Furthermore, we discussed the term “right to be forgotten”, which primarily arises from ruling in some European courts. One of the biggest concerns when people use social network such as Facebook is the security of their personal data. In this case, the right to be forgotten is simply to have the option to permanently delete the personal data a person no longer wishes to share. Unfortunately, deleting data from a single website is simply not enough. There are potentially other websites storing the same information (sometimes without your permission) and to find all the occurrences is often difficult.