Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 


Surveillance a part of everyday life

24 July 2014

Surveillance a part of everyday life

Details of casual conversations and a comprehensive store of ‘deleted’ information were just some of what Victoria University of Wellington students found during a project to uncover what records companies keep.

For an assignment in third-year media studies course ‘Media, Technologies and Surveillance’, lecturer Dr Kathleen Kuehn asked students to request personal data reports under the New Zealand Privacy Act from two to three companies of their choosing. Companies approached included TradeMe, FlyBuys, One Card, social media sites, banks and health agencies.

“I wanted the students to analyse how they participate in different types or modes of surveillance in their everyday lives, and get them thinking about why privacy matters,” says Dr Kuehn.

Although students were aware that information was stored about them for marketing purposes, some findings surprised them. One student was shocked to read in her gym file, detailed notes on conversations she’d had with the receptionist, including information on her boyfriend and stress she’d been experiencing about exams. Another student found that Facebook had kept a list of all the people she’d ever friended or claimed to be in a relationship with long after she’d deleted that information. Likewise, a student found TradeMe Jobs stored information such as CVs and cover letters for a period of time after they had been ‘deleted’.

Dr Kuehn says that putting just a few reports together provides a fairly comprehensive picture of people’s daily lives. “It wouldn't be hard to know incredibly detailed information about me and my day just by combining my Snapper card, Eftpos and iPhone app data, for example,” says Dr Kuehn.

One student remarked that the project had been an eye opener, as it showed how so much of what people say and do is recorded in today’s ‘internet age’, and how personal information collected is used to evaluate individuals.

Categorising people based on data collected about them can actually limit their opportunities, warns Dr Kuehn. For instance, she says, while some may welcome the approach of using software to scan CVs in order to personalise and improve the relevance of job advertisements presented to them, it can also restrict people’s knowledge about certain jobs.

“How are the life chances of one young person who receives targeted ads or promotional content for prestigious universities constructed differently for, say, someone who comes from a lower income neighbourhood who might receive ads for trade schools or apprenticeship programmes instead?

“If I change my settings from ‘female’ to ‘male’ on Facebook, my targeted ads change from ads about cookbooks and luxury cruises to ads about luxury cars, information about earning a tax refund and an advertisement for a career advice workshop. This not only reinforces gender norms, but also gives the ‘male version’ of myself a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

Paradoxically, one of Dr Kuehn’s students, Philippa Cole, commented that subverting surveillance in order to protect privacy is futile and can even be detrimental.

“Collecting information on people and evaluating them, whether for marketing purposes, job screening or friendship has become so normalised that to not be ‘on the grid’ could be deemed suspicious,” says Philippa.

“For instance, if a prospective employer cannot find me on LinkedIn they may assume I’m not technically proficient or market savvy, and not worth the risk.

“The use of surveillance is often critiqued in relation to the erosion of privacy issues, invariably invoking the ‘nothing to hide, nothing to worry about’ debate. This debate only serves to reinforce, justify and extend existing power dynamics, rendering surveillance as a normal and inevitable part of life.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Caracals: Small Cats With Big Ears Arrive At Wellington Zoo

Visitors to Wellington Zoo will be able to see New Zealand’s first Caracals in the Zoo’s new Grassland Cats habitat, with a special visitor opening day on Saturday 27 September. More>>

Gordon Campbell: Classics - Tales From Moominvalley
Can’t speak for the reading end of it but the Moomins ( or maybe the story about Margaret Wise Brown) were the most enjoyable subject to think about and write about during these whole first 50 issues of Werewolf. For that reason – and because the Moomins always reward re-reading – I’ve decided to reprint it. The only added element is a link to an interesting hour long documentary about Tove Jansson. More>>

ALSO:

Repping In The Pacific: All Blacks And Manu Samoa To Play Historic Apia Test

The All Blacks will play Manu Samoa in Apia on Wednesday 8 July next year as part of both teams’ preparations for Rugby World Cup 2015. More>>

ALSO:

Monarchy: Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Are Expecting Second Child

Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting their second child. More>>

ALSO:

2015: Elton John Plans Wellington Show

After nine years, Elton John and his band will return to Westpac Stadium, Wellington for one spectacular concert! The November 21, 2015 concert will feature iconic hits and classic album tracks from throughout his incredible five-decade career... More>>

Book Awards: Jill Trevelyan's Story Of Peter McLeavey Is Book Of The Year

The story of Wellington art dealer Peter McLeavey and his gallery has won the prestigious New Zealand Post Book of the Year 2014 in a glittering ceremony in Wellington. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: King Richard

Simon Nathan reviews 'Richard Seddon, King of God’s Own': My father grew up in Wellington during Seddon’s premiership... I can recall him standing under the Seddon statue in the grounds of parliament and telling me that Seddon had more backbone than Sid Holland and all his cabinet colleagues put together.. More>>

8 October: Miley Cyrus Bangerz Tour Coming To Auckland!

Dainty Group announced today that global superstar Miley Cyrus will bring her BANGERZ TOUR to New Zealand in October this year. This will be Miley’s first ever visit to New Zealand and there will only be one Auckland show before she takes her tour to Australia. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news