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Surveillance Research and Action: Approaches to Information Freedom

     At the Surveillance Research and Action: Approaches to Information Freedom panel, major themes surrounding issues with privacy online: awareness, accountability, and Internet literacy were addressed. I really enjoyed Gregory Donovan’s talk on Participation, Proprietary Media, and Data Surveillance highlighting his idea of the “Smart” City. My interpretation of the “Smart” City was the highly adaptable and tech efficient utopian view of effective, knowledgeable communication and social infrastructure based on monetary values. Donovan outlined the ideologies of digital labor and how that unknown labor affects the public, even when they are aware of it. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all platforms that do not require a fee to use the site, however there is an obligation to share profit within these companies based on our personal data, producing trade labor.

  I appreciated how the panel focused on awareness to create an anti-surveillance activity to understand the digital world we live in now. Donovan’s PowerPoint continued to decipher how fast data spreads our personal information through various mediums, and eventually to large data centers based in the middle of nowhere (Utah). I had no idea that these data centers exist, and that their existence takes up a vast amount of raw materials. So who owns these large data centers? The government and private sector companies. Donovan transitioned into addressing the legal aspect of online monitoring, through the Supreme Court case, Jones vs. United States, with the issue of the legal issue of crossing the lines of privacy and data output. How can we stop privacy from being property in the eyes of the law? Of course social media platforms spreads data and personal information, but what are the terms and conditions that we agree to, implementing? The reality that Donovan and the other panelists focused on is open communication, consenting, and being literate when conducting online activity.

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