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TECHNO-TONOMY. Privacy & Autonomy in a Networked World Learning Module 4: Surfing or Surveillance. Learning Module 4: Surfing or Surveillance. Privacy and Surveillance. New technologies can sometimes make it possible for individuals to “observe” the activities of others.

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techno tonomy


Privacy & Autonomy in a Networked World

Learning Module 4:

Surfing or Surveillance

privacy and surveillance
Privacy and Surveillance
  • New technologies can sometimes make it possible for individuals to “observe” the activities of others.
  • Can you think of ways that this can occur?
the panopticon
The Panopticon
  • A conceptual circular prison
  • The prisoners can be observed at anytime, but cannot see the observers
  • No guards are needed to enforce order, as the possibility of surveillance keeps everyone in check
types of technology
Types of Technology
  • Internet Protocol (IP) Addresses
  • Cookies
  • Email
  • Spam
  • Web bugs
  • Phishing
  • Viruses/Worms
  • Chatrooms Newsgroups
  • Web Cams/Cell phones with digital cameras
  • Gaming
ip addresses
IP Addresses
  • An address that is unique to your computer, and can be traced back to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP)
  • Many websites track your IP address
  • Small files stored on your computer containing information about you (i.e. usernames, passwords, shopping cart contents)
  • They can be stored by third-party web servers and retrieved as you visit seemingly unrelated websites, making you identifiable across sites
e mail
  • E-mail is transmitted between the sender and the recipient through many waypoints, each of which has the capability of examining or storing the message
  • Once received, e-mails can be difficult to erase completely from a computer’s hard drive
  • Unwanted bulk e-mail messages (electronic “junk mail”)
  • Spam can be targeted based on profiles marketers have developed about you through other means (i.e. cookies)
  • Sometimes spam is meant only to elicit a confirmation of your e-mail address
  • You should never respond to spam
web bugs
Web Bugs
  • Invisible images embedded in e-mail
  • They are downloaded when you view the e-mail from the e-mail sender’s web server
  • The sender knows the e-mail was opened, and could plant a cookie at the same time
  • E-mails that lure users into divulging personal information (i.e. to claim lottery winnings)
  • Phishing e-mails should be ignored and deleted
viruses worms
Viruses & Worms
  • Files you may download, or e-mail attachments, can contain viruses or worms
  • These can slow down your computer, distribute themselves to everyone in your address book, and potentially allow the creator to hijack your computer for illegal activities
chatrooms and newgroups
Chatrooms and Newgroups
  • The providers of instant messaging services and on-line discussion boards have complete access to the content of your messages
  • Most on-line forums allow user postings to be accessible globally
  • Blogs are forums were individuals can express their opinions on a variety of issues, creating a dialogue with other users.
  • Blogs are generally publicly accessibly and content can be accessed through many search engines.
webcams and camera phones
Webcams and Camera Phones
  • Restricted in change rooms, locker rooms and bathrooms
  • Difficult to know when a cell phone camera is being used
  • Webcams may be hidden and activated by someone else
  • Virtual worlds where everyone is using a ‘nym’
  • No one is exactly who they appear to be in a game
music or file sharing
Music or File Sharing
  • File sharing networks expose user’s IP addresses while downloading files
  • Risk of downloading malicious or infected files
  • Do you think downloading of music or other copyrighted works should be legal? Why or why not?
  • Do you think that internet service providers should be able to reveal your personal information (such as your IP address) to music companies (or other corporations) so that they can control downloading of copyrighted works? Do you think that this violation of individual privacy is warranted? Why or why not?
music or file sharing18
Music or File Sharing

The Supreme Court of Canada addressed some of these issues recently in:

  • Society of Composers, Authors & Music Publishers of Canada (‘SOCAN’) v. Canadian Association of Internet Providers (‘CAIP’)
    • Should Internet Service Providers be obligated by law to provide IP addresses of individuals who downloaded music to artists and music companies for the purpose of locating individuals who download or share music without paying royalties?
    • The Court ruled that ISP’s did not have to provide the IP addresses of their users, as this would be an inappropriate violation of privacy. However, the court did suggest that such groups could easily monitor the actions of users by monitoring public content and websites themselves through publicly accessible servers with specially designed software.
    • This ruling does not mean that the Courts are saying that downloading music from the internet is legal in Canada. Canadian courts have yet to explicitly address the question of whether downloading music is legal in Canada.
surfing or surveillance summary
Surfing or Surveillance: Summary
  • Technology blurs the line between public and private space
  • Surveillance can change our behaviour and identity
  • Many on-line activities result in collection of personal information
  • Users must understand how these technologies operate to limit the impact on their privacy

Surfing or Surveillance: Questions

  • Do you think that the Internet has blurred the line between private and public spaces? In what ways?
  • Think about the Panopticon. What makes the Panopticon an effective means of enforcing discipline in the prison? How does the Panopticon operate on the Internet? What impact does this have on personal privacy, individual autonomy, and identity?

Surfing or Surveillance: Questions

  • If you are aware that your actions are being monitored, does this change your actions or behaviours? If so, is this good or bad? Why?
  • Can you think of some other examples of new technologies? How can these technologies impact affect personal privacy? What sorts of solutions can you develop to address your concerns?