Position Statements

Peer Surveillance through Social Media

by Kiyoshi Abe, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan

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A Framework for Digital Signage Privacy

by Harley Lorenz Geiger, Policy Counsel, Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)

Abstract: Privacy controls are essential for digital signage to maintain consumer trust as the medium continues to assimilate identification and interactivity technologies. Unless the industry adopts robust self- regulation, it is likely to face consumer backlash and reactive government regulation that may stifle innovation. The digital out-of-home industry as a whole should commit to comprehensive privacy standards based on the Fair Information Practices. A set of model standards is presented in this article.

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Cyber-Surveillance, Privacy & Media Literacy

by Mark Lipton, Guelph University

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Institutional Approaches to Resisting Digital Surveillance

by Riseup Collective

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Carpe Datum: Proposed Changes to the Canadian Legal Regime Governing Seizure, Search and Surveillance Powers

by Chris Prince, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

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How Some Global American Corporations Manage their Security Systems in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)

by Daniel Savlicek, Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic

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Making Tracks: Mobile Devices, Surveillance, and Geolocation Privacy

by Tara Whalen, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

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Kiyoshi Abe (Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan) 

My recent research interests reside in the area of studies on usage of digital media and
surveillance. Especially, I would like to focus on the dimension of ‘peer-surveillances’
enacted through the usage of social media. In researching those topics on the web,
it is, I guess, very important and indispensable for critical researchers to pay close
attentions to the differences of socio-political contexts in which newly emergent media
is introduced, consumed and practiced in people’s everyday life.
In case of my research on one of the most popular Social Networking Service (SNS)
in Japan, mixi (Abe 2009), I tried to focus on the phenomena that users seem to be
eager to utilize the surveillant functions that mixi afford them so that they can trace
the records of who visited on ‘my page’ and how often it is. The reason why the users
prefer the transparent relationship with others enabled by such a peer-surveillance to
more ambiguous, undetermined communications enacted in everyday life seems to
have something to do with the ‘feeling of easiness and safety’ felt by mixi users.
It is possible and somehow plausible to interpret the cause and effect of peer-
surveillances from the viewpoint of ‘self-expression and power’. According to that
paradigm of interpretation, the reason why users of mixi engage in surveillance of
others is understood as their eagerness to be advantageous in relationship with others.
However, in Japanese socio-cultural contexts such an interpretation seems to be not
sufficient in clarifying why so many people are eager to check the traces of activities if
others with respect to ‘visiting at my page’.
Users of mixi seem to concern the deviation from the ‘normality’ of relationship among
the ‘intimate friends’. For the users of mixi, checking the activities of others on the web
is not only intended to manage the relationship so as to make it more advantageous for
them, but also to confirm with the expected standards of the‘ideal intimacy’ with friends.
As the case of mixi usage and peer-surveillance points out, the reason why utilizing
the surveillant functions of social media differs in each cultural context, and the effects
of surveillance enabled by social media depends on the difference of socio-political
contexts in which it introduced and consumed. Therefore, it seems indispensable for
researcher of cyber-surveillance to keep the importance of social contexts in mind in
critically investigating the newly emergent surveillance seen in the prevalence of the
Internet usages among lager populations.
Needless to say, we should be cautious to easily ‘essentialize’ the cultural differences
in advancing social scientific research on media and culture. But at the same time,
it is indeed an indispensable task for us who try to engage in the studies of cyber-
surveillance in the ear of globalization to ‘relativize’ the traditional, dominant and
Western paradigm so that we can recognize the difference and alterity of digital media
usage and its surveillant effects on society.

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