Artists force us to confront the rise in citizen surveillance

Technological 'innovations' give ordinary people increasing opportunities to monitor and record each others' behaviour. The authorities - in particular, the police - are keen to take advantage of these developments. An article published by the Goethe Institute looks at some of the ways artists have explored these developments, and what they say about contemporary forms of surveillance and social control.


Artists force us to confront the rise in citizen surveillance (Goethe Institute, link):

"As I write this, twin crises are unfolding in the United States: The COVID-19 pandemic and the protests against police brutality. The US government is turning to technological solutions to manage both of these crises, in the name of protecting citizens’ health and safety. Law enforcement is using everything from drones to social media listening to monitor protestors. Meanwhile, to stem the spread of the virus, governments worldwide have teamed up with tech companies to create contact tracing apps to track citizens.

Around the world, tech-based solutions to crises are being marketed to private and public interests alike. Once-proprietary surveillance tools are becoming popular consumer products, as tech companies seek to exploit our fears. Consequently, the act of citizens surveilling their fellow citizens is becoming just another smartphone-enabled habit. But what happens when we are increasingly watching each other, and willing to be watched? Artists are helping us imagine the consequences of that future."

 

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