AIM: Understand the issues around growth in surveillance and the internet
‘We Media’ and Democracy
The Growth of the Surveillance State
PRE-STARTER: Quick vote – acceptable or
(a) The government having the power to
listen into my calls.
(b) The government having the power to
access all of my internet use.
(c) The government sharing any information
they have on me with another
(d) The government storing all of this
information permanently despite me not
committing any offence
• Revelations about the UK’s surveillance of citizens from
• “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear”
• One surveillance camera for every 11 people
• Largest concentration of CCTV in the world despite crime
falling year on year over 30 years – which predates CCTV
• If you are arrested or taken into custody (even without
charge) you are likely to have a sample swab of DNA taken
from you. After a ruling in the European Court of Human
Rights, the Police are no longer allowed to keep this data
forever. The Police had to destroy 1.7million DNA profiles
and 775,000 DNA samples of innocent people.
Starter: Share all of the ways you have been surveyed or have ‘willingly’
shared information about your whereabouts over the course of a
morning. Here’s mine…
• Checked BBC weather app
• Opened Facebook app on way to lift
• CCTV in lift in flat
• CCTV ground floor exit
• Spoke on phone to relative
• Numerous ANR cameras on 45 minute journey
• Numerous speed cameras; cameras on traffic lights
• Passed a bicycle with camera on helmet
• Texted brother
• Arrived at school – CCTV reception
• Logged onto laptop
• CCTV in corridors – possibly 7-8 journeys being filmed
• Google search for a picture for a lesson
• Use of YouTube clip
• Read Arsenal football blog
Every action is like leaving a little digital trail
What questions might we ask about any of
this data we are creating or that is being
created about us?
What is Web 3.0? - RECAP
• Web 3.0 has a number of different definitions, but the most
popular (and simple) explanation seems to be that it’s the
virtual blending of online and offline worlds. An example of
this might be your computer remembering your tastes and
interests, so that your browser becomes like a personal
assistant when you search or look for recommendations.
• Most importantly, Web 3.0. is an
increase in computer intelligence,
to the point where
computers will be able to reason and
analyze. But they’ll be better and
more efficient at it than us.
Semantic Web - RECAP
• To many, Web 3.0 is something called the Semantic Web, a term
coined by Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the (first)
World Wide Web. In essence, the Semantic Web is a place where
machines can read Web pages much as we humans read them,
a place where search engines and software agents can better
troll the Net and find what we're looking for. "It's a set of
standards that turns the Web into one big database," says Nova
Spivack, CEO of Radar Networks, one of the leading voices of this
• But some are sceptical about whether the Semantic Web—or at
least, Berners-Lee's view of it—will actually take hold. They
point to other technologies capable of reinventing the online
world as we know it, from 3D virtual worlds to Web-connected
bathroom mirrors. Web 3.0 could mean many things, and for
Netheads, every single one is a breathtaking proposition.
What’s this got to do with Media and democracy?
In pairs, think about these media ages.
Newspaper / Print Television Internet / Digital Media
TASK: Come up with a list of ways the producer (institution) was able to gather
information about their (audience).
How does the audience benefit and how does the producer?
It’s not only the state though…
• All of the main search engines and websites collect, store and OWN
information. For example, when you post a picture on Facebook or
Twitter you no longer own that picture – they do.
• News Corp (The Sun and News of the World) and the phone-hacking
trials which culminated in the Leveson Enquiry
• Andrew Keen in his third book ‘The Internet is Not the Answer’
argues that the internet leads to monopolies who collect vast
amounts of information about us- which we freely give them-and use
that to strengthen their monopolies for their long term benefit and
our short term gratification. Pointing to companies such as Google,
Amazon and Facebook.
Messages from Mr Welch:
• Some people are simply not blogging enough
• Lack of variety in terms of presentation
• Simply repeating media theory – give your own examples!
Green pen time
• Have you corrected any or ?
• Have you written out all spelling mistakes five times?
• Have you answered any questions you’ve been asked and
responded to all feedback?
• Have you completed your yellow Pathways To Progress card
(both sides) and begun to respond to your targets?
Dan Gillmor on threats to ‘We the Media’
‘Secrecy and spying on people is government’s
way of clamping down…If we don’t fight back,
and hard, the age of the open internet and
citizen journalism could just end up being a
brief moment on a journey to a more restricted
system in which we need permission to create
and distribute our own media’
RECAP: 5 main questions we need to consider
1. What is/are ‘We Media’ and what are the main arguments in this
school of thought?
2. Where / how has ‘We Media’ emerged?
3. What are the positives and negatives of ‘We Media’?
4. In what way are the contemporary media more democratic than
5. In what ways are the contemporary media less democratic than
Group work: read (or watch), synthesise and
get ready to feed back to the whole group
Group One: ‘Hunted’ article
Group Two: Edward Snowden revelations about the surveillance state
Group Three: Campaign against the ‘Snooper’s Charter’- what is it?
Group Four: CCTV article one and article two
Group Five: Semantic Web / Web 3.0 and ‘Politics 2.0’ section in your
chapter from Julian McDougall
The standard line is...If you’ve got nothing to
hide…you’ve got nothing to fear.
• Reasons to be concerned but…keep some perspective! In some
countries I wouldn’t dare teach this lesson.
• Deep-seated trust of the state – Snowden’s revelations never sparked
much public outrage here, in the USA they were much bigger news.
• Generally, people trust the Police to use their powers fairly (although
this varies in different communities) and corruption stories make the
news because they are relatively rare
• However, there have been abuses of power and civil liberties
campaigners voice concerns that we are ‘sleepwalking into a big
You are the dictator!
How can you use all of
maintain control and
How do you get google
and co to support you
or handover data?
How might our free
press get in the way of
your plans?One thing: you are not allowed to kill anyone!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT (and our next lesson…)
• Pre-reading/watching – look up Noam Chomsky’s ‘Manufacturing
Perhaps in our societies you just don’t need to!
Long before the Soviet Union broke up, a group of Russian writers touring the United States were astonished to
find, after reading the newspapers and watching television, that almost all the opinions on all the vital issues
were the same. "In our country," said one of them, "to get that result we have a dictatorship. We imprison
We tear out their fingernails. Here you have none of that. How do you do it? What's the secret?"
John Pilger (journalist and Film-maker) writing about how our mainstream media does not challenge or
scrutinise our governments enough as they hold the same interests. This results in the narrative being
narrowed to a ‘there is no other way’ approach and ‘censorship by omission. He points to the role of the
media in distorting ‘facts’ in the run up to wars and failing to report on the consequences of our actions.
A bigger question…
If governments have the ability to do what Snowden claims then does it
damage ‘We Media’ claims that the internet age will bring about