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Surveillance Research & Action Panel

I had the great pleasure of livetweeting the panel on Tuesday night - I hope everyone enjoyed that. I think, for me, the best part about the panel was the fact that it wasn't three people each in their own way making us terrified of using the internet. Instead, it was a call for awareness and research, asking us as users to be active in the fight for our right to anonymity. It was a love-letter to privacy and the people and programs dedicated to making sure that privacy is attainable. Gregory Donovan said "we have readily accepted [surveillance] as the price way pay to be online" and rather than letting that be the final word on the subject, the subsequent two speakers taught us ways to take back our online experience. 

Gregory Donovan spoke about dataveillance (a new term for the twictionary?): the means by which we are surveyed by the data collected about us by our technology. His discussion focused on how this surveillance is happening, and more importantly, our response to it. We may accept surveillance as the price we pay to be online, but we certainly don't like to think about it. Knowing it's happening is one thing, actually being able to SEE how our iPhones track our movement, or how google can produce our search records, is another. And when users become upset about seeing the surveillance, companies simply develop better ways to hide it. We are being trained to participate in a model of living that accepts surveillance as the norm, which is absolutely unacceptable. Research should be a two-way street and aboveboard because "information is best created together, and should be shared, not owned".

Carolyn Anhalt showed us a plethora of ways that we can take back our digital security - apps to download, plugins to install, and websites to use that allow even the most casual internet used to reclaim some privacy and help others to reclaim theirs. And to me, this is the most exciting prospect. People are fighting back - internet security isn't just for tinfoil-hat-wearing-hacktivists, it can be for everyone. All it takes is a few clicks and a few changes in habits (like using DuckDuckGo instead of Google) to begin participating. There are so many people dedicated to creating a safe and "free" digital experience and that's really inspiring. 

Finally, Sandy Ordonez's segment was really a love letter to the internet, it's possibilities, and it's denizens. She discussed how to join meetup groups of technoactivists, how to get involved, and why it's important that people of all backgrounds participate in this movement. She too gave the audience a wide variety of tools to use and websites to visit that are the first step in reclaiming online privacy. "The solutions", she said, regarding the "perfect world" of the internet, "are all going to be combination of technology AND policy".

 

 

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