Monitoring everyday life
“28 If London suddenly is attacked, it is very likely that the same will happen – and that we will experience much more surveillance. Not just by installing more CCTV cameras or more police in the streets, what Gary T. Marx calls overt and non-deceptive surveillance,29 but also more intelligence and undercover methods to find more “terrorists”. The book was printed shortly after the terror attacks on New York and Pentagon, but when discussing a topic such as surveillance, Lyon should have looked what implications it could have.
However, he does look at the issue in a chapter in Kirstie Ball and Frank Webster’s The Intensification of Surveillance, where he writes: “… One of the most prominent ongoing reactions is to enhance surveillance operations on a number of fronts and there has been no lack of proposals concerning the best way to achieve this,”30 adding that surveillance in the Western world has been intensified and centralised. The future of surveillance is difficult to foresee. In Steven Spielberg’s Hollywood blockbuster Minority Report, Tom Cruise is constantly monitored by CCTV cameras and having his eyes scanned every time he gets off the subway.
Advertising – even the billboards – is targeted directly towards to the specific customer and their specific “needs” or wishes. Although this is science fiction, it might not be too far from reality in some years. Computer technology is under constant development and the lap top computer you bought two years ago might already be too old for some software. In his final chapter, “The future of surveillance”, he does not only look at what direction surveillance is going, but also where it should go.
The further development of technology will surely have an effect on surveillance, as will the increase of leaky containers and flow of global data. Lyon argues that surveillance is no longer bounded of borders and is instead “steadily experiencing globalisation and virtualisation”. 31 He believes that the expansion of surveillance is due to a tilt towards the post-modern society and while risk assessment was previously feared as a method of monitoring by the state, it is now also done by capitalist companied, and rapidly expanding.
32 Lyon sees the disappearing of bodies – that people do not interact face-to-face – as one of the major issues that need to be tackled. Hence he wants to “re-embody” persons, and that surveillance should be influenced by the conviction of this and thus help to focus on what is wrong with surveillance today. 33 Garfinkel believes that “technology will increasingly be used to limit ambiguity” in the future34 and that computers must become more secure. He says that we stand before a crossroads, where it could be necessary for the government to come up with new legislation on surveillance.
Without it, he says, “it is simply too easy and too profitable for business to act in a manner that’s counter to our interest”. 35 Whitaker focuses on how the new technology has enabled resistance groups to present their opposition against dictatorships etc. He argues that “Big Brother” is coming back as an outside consultant because of the threats of globalisation. However, he believes that the global surveillance regime is required “because the networked world contains deep elements of instability and contradiction”, such as the threat of terrorism.
36 Gary T. Marx sees both advantages and disadvantages of the new surveillance used by police authorities. Federal agencies’ record has been held to an acceptable level, Marx says, but there is still need for caution and respect for the dangers of it, and that America is shifting into a maximum-security society. 37 According to Lyon, surveillance and risk works in two ways because it has two faces. It can be seen as minimizing or averting risk, but also as a government intrusion into privacy.
38 While he does not fear an Orwellian society – where citizens are constantly monitored by “Big Brother” and completely stripped of their rights for privacy – Lyon is concerned with the intensification of surveillance, whether it is by the government or commercial organisations. However, the book is very one-sided. Although he has written in his introduction that he will not focus on the benefits of surveillance, it is still important to look at both the pros and cons such as Giddens does when he states that systems of surveillance “both strengthen managerial control and increase choices for people”.
39 Another important factor is that Lyon, together with many other social thinkers, only describe the problems that exist and the direction they are going, but do not come up with a solution to it. In some ways one can argue that it is like Winston Smith from George Orwell’s Nineteen-eighty-four at an early stage, who can see all the problems of “The Party” controlling Oceania’s citizens, but without doing anything about it. Although he gives reason how and why surveillance works, he should also emphasise more on what implications it has for people.The average “prole”, if you like, does not understand it by reading this book as they might just register it, but not necessarily react to it.
Word count: 2847 Bibliography: Garfinkel S. (2001), “Database Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century”, O’Reilly and Associates, Sebastopol, California, USA. Liberty report, “Liberty’s evidence to the Home Affairs Committee on the Draft Identity Cards Bill”, May 2004 Lyon D. (1994), “The Electronic Eye: The Rise of Surveillance Society”, Polity Press, Cambridge. Lyon D.
(2001), “The Information Society: Monitoring Everyday Life”, Open University Press, Buckingham. Marx G. T. (1988), “Undercover: Police Surveillance in America”, University of California Press, Los Angeles, USA Surveillance and Society journal, www. surveillance-and-society. org. The Independent, “‘Martyrs’ who fail to register for ID cards face i?? 2,500 fines”, 30 November 2004. The Times, “ID cards for all to fight terrorism”, 24 November 2004. Webster F. (2004), “The Information Society Reader”, Routledge, London. Webster F.(2002), “Theories of the Information Society” (2nd edition), Routledge, Oxon.
Whitaker R. (1999), “The End of Privacy: How total Surveillance is Becoming a Reality”, Scribe Publications, Melbourne, Australia. 1 The Independent (30 Nov. 2004) 2 Liberty report (3 Feb. 2004) 3 Lyon (2001): p. 37 4 Lyon (2001): p. 39 5 Webster (2002): p. 223 6 Webster (2002): p. 211 7 Lyon (2001): p. 39 8 Whitaker (1999): p. 85 9 Lyon (2001): p. 47 10 Garfinkel (2001): p. 32-33 11 Garfinkel (2001): p. 32 12 Marx (1988): p. 210 13 Foucalt in Webster (2004): p. 302 14 Foucalt in Webster (2004): p. 303-4 15 Lyon (2001): p.114 16 Lyon (2001): p. 91 17 Lyon (2001).
91 18 Lyon (2001): p. 89 19 Lyon (2001): p. 95 20 Whitaker (1999): p. 93 21 Lyon (2001): p. 97 22 Garfinkel (2001): p. 98 23 Lyon (2001): p. 98 24 Lyon (201): p. 101 25 Lyon (2001): p. 103 26 Lyon (2001): p. 39 27 Webster (2002): p. 217 28 Ball and Webster (2003): p. 3 29 Marx (1988): p. 11 30 Lyon in Ball and Webster (2003): p. 16 31 Lyon (2001): p 145 32 Lyon (2001): p. 143 33 Lyon (2001): p. 152 34 Garfinkel (2001): p. 35 35 Garfinkel (2001): p. 260 36 Whitaker (1999): p. 183 37 Marx (1988): p. 221 38 Lyon (2001): p 46 39 Webster (2002): p. 157.