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Privacy, Surveillance, and the New Media You


Edward Lee Lamoureux

Very little in the American way of life functions adequately under surveillance.  Democracy itself may be at mortal risk due to the loss of privacy and the increase in surveillance.

Examining challenges in a wide range of contexts, this book investigates and critically examines our systems of data management, including the ways that data are collected, exchanged, analyzed, and re-purposed.

The volume calls for re-establishing personal privacy as a societal norm and priority, requiring action on the part of everyone at personal, societal, business, and governmental levels. Because new media products and services are professionally designed and implemented to be frictionless and highly rewarding, change is difficult and solutions are not easy. This volume provides insight into challenges and recommended solutions.

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Chapter 2: Centerings


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Just because perfect control is not possible does not mean that effective control is not possible. … A fundamental principle of bovinity is operating here and elsewhere. Tiny controls, consistently enforced, are enough to direct very large animals.

—Lawrence Lessig, Code, Version 2.0 (p. 88)

The FIPs provide the ‘center that holds’ for this book. Additionally, a number of conceptual orientations inform the approach represented here. This chapter describes and discusses a number of theories and ideas that are, primarily, directed toward examinations of control aspects in mediated environments, including questions related to privacy and surveillance. Perspectives offered by Robert McChesney, Helen Nissenbaum, Yochai Benkler, Lawrence Lessig, and José van Dijck receive primary attention. From a broader view, questions posed by Neil Postman toward technologies—especially when interrogating new technologies—permeate the discussion throughout. Marshall McLuhan’s ideas animate this book.

Theoretical Orientations

Although it is wise to assume that the golden mean should prevail, democracy requires autonomy, autonomy requires privacy, and capitalism requires profit. ← 29 | 30 →

The connections among autonomy, privacy, and democracy are fundamental, long-standing, and well established. Individuals whose movements are constrained are imprisoned; individuals whose actions are under constant surveillance are likewise shackled; individuals whose range of action is so minimized as to be ineffective are unable to fully participate in democratic processes. American colonialists revolted against the British largely to gain autonomy. Democratic participation requires reasonable amounts of...

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