Surveillance and Bodies

In part two of Privacy Matters, Beck and Hutchinson Campos organize discussion on “Surveillance and Bodies” around research that shows how “educators and researchers bear responsibility for critiquing the systems that we communicate within or, in effect, that write our lives and our bodies through data” (p. 11). The importance of this section emerges throughout the need for people to understand and react against the multiplicity of ways…    

surveillance enforces marginalization, creates and maintains cultural systems of oppression, and lures people obliviously into waiving personal rights and participating in potentially unsafe situations.  

The chapters in this section pull data from a diverse range of studies looking at systems of data collection which compile and define aspects of everyday people’s identities and bodies through the creation of individual data profiles. Discussion in chapter four emphasizes how networks of surveillance that move with people through many parts of their day will “sustain conditions of precarity for marginalized identities and bodies” (Edwards, p. 76). The point here is that more than just everyone being surveilled through constant data collection which is then sold and used to define what digital media and advertisement they receive; underprivileged peoples face additional challenges presented as such surveillance reinforces existing cultural power structures and actively defines the digital things they engage with which in turn defines and dictates their life and body.  

This circular system of digital users, creating data that dictates the data they receive which then dictates their body and the data they create, exists among large digital systems that pervade most aspects of people’s online lives. Results of the study in chapter five however, identify how on a smaller and more controllable scale, “it is crucial for institutions to employ a participatory approach to designing and instating their pervasive data-collection infrastructures” (Tham & Duin, p. 104). Even if it is hard for internet users to dictate the data collected on them in a modern net-centric society, Privacy Matters here argues at a moral need for all institutions to allow full participation from those whose data is collected themselves to define what form of data and how that data is collected.  

The importance of this power in defining how our data is collected and treated becomes even more apparent through the study in chapter six which brings up dilemmas when considering how “the privacy policies and terms of service for socially networked games are frequently problematic … [create] potential threats to personal safety … [and how] many users may be unaware of terms-of-service clauses that waive important legal rights given that many fail to read these documents” (Vie & Miller, p. 114). Through information in this section, Privacy Matters highlights the need for people to understand and fight for the power to regulate what data is collected on them. Similarly, when operating in systems where people have little to no ability to regulate such data… 

it becomes ever more paramount to understand exactly what ways these systems define the rights we have and control our bodies.

Section Includes Chapters:

“Deep Circulation” by Dustin Edwards

“Digital Literacy in an Age of Pervasive Surveillance: A Case of Wearable Technology” by Jason Tham and Ann Hill Duin

“Gotta Watch ‘Em All: Privacy, Social Gameplay, and Writing in Augmented Reality Games” by Stephanie Vie and Jennifer Roth Miller