By MARCUS BREEN, Professor of Communication and Media, editor of the International Journal of Technology Knowledge and Society, and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.
, 16 November, 2013 editorialised on the rise and rise of surveillance, drawing attention to the remorseless rush toward “ubiquitous recording” of pretty well everything (editorial
). Video cameras everywhere, defines the emergence of visual culture on a massive scale.
The magazine noted in “Every Step You Make,” that the “perfect digital memory” will become a commonplace, as will surveillance on grand and granular scales. It cited Google’s Glass computer, a mini smart-phone, worn on the wearer’s nose, as just one of many digital tools being developed. And so it goes, in the totalized information world.
There are two points to reflect on:
1. A fascist tendency towards the control society. If the totalization factor becomes inescapable, there is every reason to be concerned about the closure of the public interest. Without fail, every effort at totalizing control is operationalized by private corporations with privatizing intent. Interestingly, Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with creating the World Wide Web, is on the record expressing concerns about this trend, suggesting that governments should do more (Berners-Lee
). Ultimately, private interests have difficulty expressing any concern for the public interest. That is often the preferred definition of private concerns as they play out.
2. The promoters of Liberal politics are not always prepared to identify the ideology at play in their value system. However, The Economist made the case about the totalized information world in a manner that should be welcomed. In fact, the magazine made the point about the “deeper impulse” of liberty; “freedom has to include some right to privacy: if every move you make is being chronicled, liberty is curtailed.”