If we begin to examine the phrase “mass surveillance” it becomes apparent that it is all encompassing of our lives; from shopping, way finding,communicating with loved ones, education, leisure activities, law enforcement and politics. As digital technologies become evermore seamless so does the potential for tracking, sharing and using our data.
When there are so many parties with conflicting interests involved it becomes difficult to determine who truly owns data. Digital technology is perhaps still too young to have figured out its duty of care for equality as ethics and vaguely defined frameworks recur on this map.
01 (Crikey 2015)
This image examines the complexities of data and the lack of knowledge when it comes to making policy and laws. There is a collective frustration and confusion felt by many Australian’s who are unsure about what exactly dataveillance is and how the data retention laws effect them. With no education we have been left in the dark, as if tech support suddenly hung up on us mid phone call.
02 (News Limited 2015)
Scott Ludlum, a Greens senate member for Western Australia gives the finger in protest. Although it is not clear who exactly the gesture is intended for it is clear that he is frustrated by fellow politicians and journalists. Many would call this a knee jerk reaction to the newly introduced metadata retention scheme, although Ludlum is sincerely frustrated by politician’s lack of knowledge on the topic. Whilst there is shock value to a politician sticking their finger up it this type of image has the ability to resonate with younger generations who are often by disengaged from the political process. What may appear to be a clickbait style image is really a vehicle for young people to become invested and concerned about their online privacy.
03 (Banksy 2008)
This street art piece by Banksy protests against the heavy presence of CCTV surveillance cameras specifically in London, but also across the United Kingdom. Daringly, this illegal piece was thrown up right next to a set of CCTV cameras in a post office complex. The words “One nation under CCTV” allude to a dystopian urban environment which citizens actions are dictated by surveillance equipment and schemes. The most powerful part of this statement piece is its scale and simplicity—through this Banksy assumes the position of whistleblower. Upon noticing the first two words “One nation”; It becomes obvious that mass surveillance does not discriminate, everyone is vulnerable and therefore should be equally aware and concerned about their privacy.
04 (Ohman 2014)
Ohman’s editorial cartoon mocks the NSA and the American government’s ability to do their job. Despite an enormous budget, extensive resources and information they have been unsuccessful in silencing the truth revealed by Edward Snowden when he leaked thousands of classified documents. The NSA headquarters are depicted with a ludicrous array of satellite dishes and radio towers—suggestive of the shear amount of surveillance undertaken. The depicted military official believes that more data is a good thing, however this mentality is ignorant if there is so much data that can’t be efficiently analysed or interpreted. The government has an immense amount of power yet they are unable to use it productively. Like image one and two there is an underlying tone of frustration and lack of knowledge.
05 (Electronic Products 2014)
This image uses hyperbole to address personal privacy when using the internet. The nature of the hoodie stretched over the laptop suggests that the user has something to hide from the rest of the world; maybe an effective way to hide from the boss at work but it isn’t adequate to erase a digital footprint. After examining this image it becomes apparent that many of us aren’t equipped with the knowledge of how to protect ourselves online due to a lack of general education available in this sector—This needs to be addressed urgently as technology and surveillance become more seamless and invasive every day.
06 (Cyber Chick 2016)
A twitter users meme mocks the Australian Bureau of Statistic’s attempt at the 2016 census. Having already been scrutinised for being the first online census which data is not anonymous, the census website was taken offline on September 9 after multiple DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. This resulted in the inevitable #censusfail hashtag and ensuing mayhem. The ABS’ technological literacy and security safeguards have been called into question as Cyber Chick likens the convenience of filling out an online census to using an etch a sketch to draw a complex image—painfully slow and awkward. Like Ohman’s cartoon this image raises questions about the government’s duty of care to its citizens. There appears to be continual lack of understanding about the internet on behalf of those in charge which only serves to reinforce the distrust many people have in the government.
07 (Heather Maxie 2015)
Maxie’s artwork encapsulates the forceful and sinister reality of mass surveillance. The the pink lines on the omniscient eye suggest it is strained to capacity, not allowed to blink incase it misses a piece of ‘vital’ information about it’s citizens. The centred figure, dwarfed by the eye is violently conflicted about keeping their data secure. Maxie’s work can be understood as a facilitator for dialogue on the pressing paradox of national security vs. individual privacy. We are urged to think critically about our relationship with online technologies, to know when it is acceptable to hand over control and when it is not. The solution to this is something like a yin and yang relationship in which both parties must learn to compromise in order to exist together.
08 (Vice News 2016)
This image depicts a stereotypical ‘hacker’. Many people, especially the media and hollywood have created a very specific image of what and who hackers are. The problem is that the act of hacking, and hackers themselves are not accurately represented or taken seriously. Anyone can be a ‘hacker’—there is no uniform or identifying mark but rather a loosely associated online community linked together through forums. As technology becomes more accessible and the frequency of whistleblowing increases it is becoming easier to learn hacking skills. The most intriguing aspect of hacking is the consequences may seem very minimal to the instigator behind a screen but their real time impacts can be quite catastrophic. The most unfortunate part of being online is the disconnect between action and reaction because there is no official rule book.
09 (Ken Munro 2016)
Security researchers Andrew Tierney and Ken Munro, were able to infect a thermostat with a ransomware virus. This virus allows the hacker to lock the thermostat and extort payment for the user to regain control to their device. As an emerging sector of technology the internet of things rapid continues to present us with new challenges. Devices ranging from smart fridges to TV’s, lightbulbs and thermostats are all beginning to integrate wireless connectivity into their construction. The issue is that security on these devices is often an after thought because they have been designed for a totally offline purpose. Is there a need for the internet of things?
10 (Andrew Auernheimer 2016)
Andrew Auernheimer a notorious hacker/troll created a code script which allowed him to communicate with over 20,000 printers world wide. He used this script to instruct the automatic printing of the racist flyers which caused embarrassment and outrage for various educational institutions. Much like image 09 the internet of thing’s capabilities are being truly tested. Designers and educators need to shift their thought process to the perspective of a user/hacker in order to create more secure, responsive and seamless objects which can connect with the internet.
by Samson Ossedryver
Auernheimer, A. 2016, Flyer, Motherboard (Vice Media), viewed 28 August 2016, <https://motherboard.vice.com/read/hacker-weev-made-thousands-of-internet-connected-printers-spit-out-racist-flyers>.
Banksy, 2008, One nation under CCTV, The Telegraph, viewed 21 August 2016, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1895625/Banksy-pulls-off-daring-CCTV-protest-in-London.html>.
Chick C. 2016, Latest news: census will now be conducted via etch a sketch, Womens Weekly, viewed 21 August 2016, <http://www.aww.com.au/latest-news/news-stories/2016-census-fail-28368>.
Lizardhq, 2016, This is not one of the hackers we talked to, and this is actually not how real hackers normally look like, Vice News, viewed 21 August 2016, <http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-future-of-hacking-podcast?trk_source=recommended>.
Maxie, H. 2015, #Three, Clues in the cloud, viewed 28 August 2016, <http://cluesinthecloud.com/#three/>.
Munro, K. 2016, The ransomware message that Tierney and Munro were able to display on the vulnerable thermostat, Motherboard (Vice Media), viewed 21 August 2016, <http://motherboard.vice.com/read/internet-of-things-ransomware-smart-thermostat>.
News Limited, 2015, Greens senator Scott Ludlam is one of the schemes biggest protesters, News Limited, viewed 21 August 2016, <http://www.news.com.au/technology/online/new-data-retention-laws-begin-today-this-is-what-you-need-to-know/news-story/28ea2dc1b01d15e53f474e21b6d68501>.
Ohman, J, 2014, Editorial cartoon on the NSA, US News, viewed 21 August 2016, <http://www.usnews.com/cartoons/editorial-cartoons-on-the-nsa>
Unknown, 2015, Untitled, Crikey, viewed 21 August 2016, <https://www.crikey.com.au/2015/03/18/your-guide-to-the-data-retention-debate-what-it-is-and-why-it’s-bad/>.
Unknown, 2014, Untitled, Electronic Products, viewed 21 August 2016, <http://www.electronicproducts.com/Computer_Systems/Standalone_Mobile/Protect_your_online_privacy_using_these_9_free_tools.aspx>.