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Captured at Birth? Intimate Surveillance and Digital Legacies
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From social media to CCTV cameras, surveillance practices have been largely normalised in contemporary cultures. While sousveillance – surveillance and self-surveillance by everyday individuals – ...

From social media to CCTV cameras, surveillance practices have been largely normalised in contemporary cultures. While sousveillance – surveillance and self-surveillance by everyday individuals – is often situated as a viable means of subverting and making visible surveillance practices, this is premised on those being surveyed having sufficient agency to actively participate in escaping or re-directing an undesired gaze (Albrechtslund, 2008; Fernback, 2013; Mann, Nolan, & Wellman, 2002). This paper, however, considers the challenges that come with what might be termed intimate surveillance: the processes of recording, storing, manipulating and sharing information, images, video and other material gathered by loved ones, family members and close friends. Rather than considering the complex negotiations often needed between consenting adults in terms of what material can, and should, be shared about each other, this paper focuses on the unintended digital legacies created about young people, often without their consent. As Deborah Upton (2013, p. 42) has argued, for example, posting first ultrasound photographs on social media has become a ritualised and everyday part of process of visualising and sharing the unborn. For many young people, their – often publicly shared – digital legacy begins before birth. Along a similar line, a child’s early years can often be captured and shared in a variety of ways, across a range of platforms, in text, images and video. The argument put forward is not that such practices are intrinsically wrong, or wrong at all. Rather, the core issue is that so many of the discussions about privacy and surveillance put forward in recent years presume that those under surveillance have sufficient agency to at least try and do something about it. When parents and others intimately survey their children and share that material – almost always with the very best intentions – they often do so without any explicit consideration of the privacy, rights or (likely unintended) digital legacy such practices create. A legacy which young people will have to, at some point, wrestle with, especially in a digital landscape increasingly driven by ‘real names’ policies (Zoonen, 2013). Inverting the overused media moral panic about young people’s sharing practices on social media, this paper argues that young people should be more concerned about the quite possibly inescapable legacy their parents’ documenting and sharing practices will create. Ensuring that intimate surveillance is an informed practice, better educational resources and social media literacy practices are needed for new parents and others responsible for managing the digital legacies of others.

Present 1 February 2014 at the Surveillance, Copyright, Privacy: The end of the open internet Conference at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

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Captured at Birth? Intimate Surveillance and Digital Legacies Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Captured at Birth? Intimate Surveillance and Digital Legacies Dr Tama Leaver, Centre for Culture and Technology Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J 01.02.2014
  • 2. Overview. 1. Identity Contexts 2. Shifting Surveillance 3. Negotiating Intimate Surveillance 1 February 2014 Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 3. I. Identity Contexts Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 4. (a) The Networked Self / Networked Publics  Persistance  Replicability  Scalability  Searchability (boyd, 2010)  + Ownership (Aufderheide, 2010) Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 5. Identity 2.0 (Helmond, 2010)  In Perpetual Beta  Networked  (other) User-generated identity  Distributed  Indexed  Persistent Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 6. Web Presence (Allen, 2010; Leaver, 2010)  Internet Footprints  Digital Shadows  Social Media Rivers  From “user-generated content” to “Content-generated users.” Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 7. Shared assumptions of Identity 2.0, the Networked Self, and Web Presence  Individual agency is central.  Presumption that identity should be controlled, curated and managed by the ‘self’ being presented.  When agency is not the controlling influence, this is seen as an issue to be overcome (eg better privacy settings). Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 8. (b) The ‘Real Name’ Web "Nowadays, however, the anonymity of the [early] internet and the construction of online personas that do not reflect offline identities have been reconstructed as 'risk factors' of internet use … Governments, schools, parents and other concerned parties now routinely warn against online imposters, bullying and identity theft, and social network sites like Facebook or Google+ have policies requiring users to register with their real names and data, and prevent them from having more than one account.” (Zoonen, 2013: 45) Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 9. The Shift to Real Names (nymwars) … Single database point. All activity connected … Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 10. (c) Parents as initial identity curators …  Parents/guardians set the initial parameters of online identity.  From ultrasounds photos to cute toddler pics, losing that first tooth etc …  How do and should young people ‘inherit’ online identities? Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 11. The emergence of such social media platforms as Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, Bundlr and YouTube facilitating the sharing of images has allowed the wide dissemination of imagery and information about the unborn in public forums. Indeed, sharing of the first ultrasound photograph on social media has become a rite of pregnancy for many women. (Lupton, 2013, p. 42) 1 February 2014 Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 12. Parents: Framing Online Identities? Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 13. II. Shifting Surveillance Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 14. (a) Surveillance Culture  CCTV, airport scanners, various forms of tracking.  Government tracking (incl. NSA/Prism etc.).  Corporate tracking (eg frequent flyers or corporate rewards cards).  Social media surveillance, Facebook profiles and shadow profiles.  Facial recognition in government, corporate and social media tracking. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 15. (b) Sousveillance  Albrechtslund (2008): “social surveillance” as knowing play.  E.J. Westlake (2008) goes a step further, arguing that just because a user’s online performance and activity are being recorded performances can be entirely false or misleading, subverting the effectiveness of even top-down surveillance.  Sousveillance: organised watching of the watchers, such as organised groups watching Facebook’s practices (Fernabck 2013).  Sousveillance as "inverse surveillance", countering/reversing organisational surveillance with wearable devices and individuals surveying society and each other (Mann, et al, 2002). Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 16. Sousveillance as Material Resistance CV Dazzle anti-facial recognition makeup http://cvdazzle.com/ Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 17. Intimate Surveillance  Beyond ‘peer surveillance’ which involves active agents (Andrejevic, 2005) .  Intimate surveillance involves the purposeful (and almost always well-intentioned) surveillance of young people by parents, guardians and friends; the surveyed have little or no agency to resist themselves.  For example, the sharing of Facebook photographs of very young children (no ability to request non-sharing, sometimes tagged with parent’s names, sometimes their own; hence shadow profiles) and a realm of related practices. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 18. III. Negotiating Intimate Surveillance Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 19. (a) Normalising Infant Surveillance: Sprout Baby Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 20. Sprout Baby: Sleep Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 21. Sprout Baby: Feeding Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 22. Sprout Baby: Data Security / Terms of Use Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 23. Infants becoming big data … http://owletcare.com/ Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 24. (b) Instagram: #ultrasound (11/11/12) Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 25. Instagram’s growth …  October 2010: Launch (Apple AppStore).  December 2010: 1 million users.  June 2011: 5 million users.  September 2011: 10 million users.  April 2012: Android version released.  September 2012: 100 million users.  But DOES MOBILE = PRIVATE? Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 26. Privacy: experiential but not technical … Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 27. A plethora of Instagram web clients … Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 28. Geotags … Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 29. Data ownership … Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 30. And now official Instagram web timelines … Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 31. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 32. A Social Media Contradiction “a social media contradiction may arise where users focus on the social elements – often acts of communication and sharing which are thought of as ephemeral and in the moment, comparable to a telephone conversation – while the companies and corporations creating these apps are more focused on the media elements, which are measurable, aggregatable, can be algorithmically analysed in a variety of potentially valuable ways, and can last indefinitely.” (Leaver & Lloyd, 2014) Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 33. (c) Many positive uses of data tracking …  Tracking and surveillance are not intrinsically negative, and can be incredibly positive and useful.  Big data tracking of prematurely born babies, using “software that captures and processes patient data in real time, tracking 16 different data streams, such as heart rate, respiration rate, temperature, blood pressure, and blood oxygen level, which together amount to around 1260 points of data” revealed significant diagnostic correlations, leading to very real health improvements (Mayer-Schonberger & ̈ Cukier, 2013: 60-61).  Well-managed and transparent tracking, with informed consent, often leads to significant improvements across a range of fields. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 34. Conclusions  Intimate surveillance normalises a surveillance culture facilitated by parents, family and friends.  Better digital literacies about the uses (and potential abuses) of data shared with apps, platforms and services are needed (informed uses is the key).  More transparency is required about how data might be shared and used in all contexts, especially commercial ones.  Social norms need to evolve regarding the sharing (and nonsharing) of data and media generated about young people not just moral panics about data shared by young people. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 35. References  Albrechtslund, A. (2008). Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance. First Monday, 13(3). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2142/1949  Allen, M. (2009). Web Presence: Understanding persistent and interlinked content as the basis of identity formation and promotion through the contemporary Internet, Communication, Creativity and Global Citizenship: Australia and New Zealand Communications Association Annual Conference, Brisbane.  Andrejevic, M. (2005). The Work of Watching One Another: Lateral Surveillance, Risk, and Governance. Surveillance & Society, 2(4), 479–497.  Aufderheide, P. (2010). Copyright, Fair Use, and Social Networks. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites (pp. 274-303). Routledge.  boyd, danah. (2010). Social Network Sites and Networked Publics: Affordances, Dymanics and Implications. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites (pp. 39-58). Routledge.  Fernback, J. (2013). Sousveillance: Communities of resistance to the surveillance environment. Telematics and Informatics, 30(1), 11–21. doi:10.1016/j.tele.2012.03.003  Goffman, E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Anchor Book.  Helmond, A. (2010). Identity 2.0: Constructing identity with cultural software. www.annehelmond.nl, PDF: http://www.annehelmond.nl/wordpress/wp-content/uploads//2010/01/helmond_identity20_dmiconference.pdf.  Leaver, T. (2010) I tweet therefore I am? Challenges in learning identity by teaching web presence, Teaching and Learning Forum, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup.  Leaver, T., & Lloyd, C. (2014, Forthcoming). Seeking Transparency in Locative Media. In R. Wilken & G. Goggin (Eds.), Locative Media. London & New York: Routledge.  Lupton, D. (2013). The Social Worlds of the Unborn. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.  Mann, S., Nolan, J., & Wellman, B. (2002). Sousveillance: Inventing and Using Wearable Computing Devices for Data Collection in Surveillance Environments. Surveillance & Society, 1(3), 331–355.  Mayer-Schonberger, V., & Cukier, K. (2013). Big data: a revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think. Great B: John Murray. ̈  Papacharissi, Z. (2010). Conclusion: A Networked Self. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites (pp. 304-318). Routledge.  Westlake, E. J. (2008). Friend Me if You Facebook: Generation Y and Performative Surveillance. TDR: The Drama Review, 52(4), 21–40.  Zoonen, L. van. (2013). From identity to identification: fixating the fragmented self. Media, Culture & Society, 35(1), 44–51. doi:10.1177/0163443712464557 Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  • 36. Questions or Comments? Or find me later … www.tamaleaver.net @tamaleaver t.leaver@curtin.edu.au Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J