Have you ever been on candid camera? What about when you walk into a supercenter and you see your image on the surveillance monitor? Have you ever thought about the implications of this technology?
Dataveillance is defined by Roger Clarke as the systematic use of personal data systems in the investigation or monitoring of the actions or communications of one or more persons.1
Data mining – as defined on Wikipedia – is the application of statistical techniques and programmatic algorithms to discover previously unnoticed relationships within the data.2
Surveillance – as defined on Wikipedia – is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people and often in a surreptitious maner.2 Origin of word comes from the French word for “watching over”.2
Everyday Applications of Dataveillance/Data Mining
Dataveillance bridges the gap between the observation aspect of surveillance, and the large databases of information on people. The most common example can be seen in everyday TV shows and movies. Law enforcement dramas regularly take a still profile shot from video camera footage taken during the crime and use special software to compare this with characteristics of known criminals.
Data mining is used quite frequently by social media networks, such as Facebook, to better understand trends between users and their interests. These relationships between users and interests are then exploited by special computer programming to display related links as ads on the page the user is viewing. Google also employs this technique within gmail. User emails are scanned and related links are displayed on a news bar just above the user’s inbox.
Dangers of Data Mining and Dataveillance
Free choice in marketplace lost (monopoly on products and services)3
Innovation can be stifled (fear of breaking laws prevent improvements upon existing methods)3
Negative psychological effects produced (example: paranoia)3
Those under surveillance will be controlled by the observers (creating slavery)3
Creation of a dictatorship, which prevents democracy (people live in fear of the government) 3
How to Prevent Rights from Infringement
Using ad blockers provided by internet browsers
Making a conscious choice to not use a product or service (example: Facebook)
Adopting new technologies that promote free choice in the markets
Advocating the use of less invasive alternatives (example: biometric devices on private networks)
Selecting elected officials that promote democracy and freedom of individual rights
Dataveillance, data mining, and other forms of data surveillance are often used for security purposes to solve crimes, and bring criminals to justice. If laws do not protect the rights of individuals, these forms of surveillance can infringe upon our freedoms. It is up to each individual to elect leaders that will ensure we continue to live in a country that allows our individual liberties and freedoms.
1Roger Clarke’s Dataveillance and Information Privacy Home-Page. RogerClarke.com.
3Journalist M.The Rise of Data Mining and Dataveillance. Associated Content.