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Is Technology Turning Against Us? The Case to The Right of Privacy

Irma Spahiu, Instructor, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto

Published April 20, 2018 by Technologies of Justice.

Irma Spahiu asks, "Is technology turning against us?" during a session on surveillance, privacy and security in the digital era. The session took place on January 26, 2018 at the Technologies of Justice Conference, held at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.



“We can only be sure that we are free from surveillance if we retire to our basements, cloak our windows, cloak our lights, and remain absolutely quiet.” 
Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
Spahiu grew up in a country whose people were under government surveillance. She spoke on the Snowden Case, surveillance and the secret state. She explained the way different authorities use different surveillance mechanisms against people, and what it was like growing up under government surveillance.
She asked, "What does mass surveillance mean?" and "What is mass surveillance like in Canada?” She brought the government use of surveillance into view, in terms of crime prevention, terrorism and other commonplace occurrences. She explained that when it comes to the continuous sustained monitoring of individuals, there are no strict definitions or legal borders and boundaries on web-based surveillance, and how loopholes are often used to gain data with the advent of new technologies. She explained the new climate in surveillance in which businesses can sell surveillance to the government, and in which there is very little information on the legality of drones, earth and space tracking, and satellite surveillance as well as the use of small technology such as virtual reality, body or dash cameras. She explained the use of private closed-circuit TV, and how in most cases involving monitoring, you don't need consent.
She suggested that we have a false expectation of privacy, but then asked, "Is surveillance in itself bad?" She explored the cloak of secrecy: the practices, who is under surveillance, and if it is not inherently bad, why do we have problems? She explained the lack of current updates in law to keep up to date with technology standards in surveillance. She asked, "How much is the government spending on this?" in reference to the quality and effectiveness of surveillance.
Her final note was on the Communications Security Establishment and Canadian Security Intelligence Service; she spoke about how mass surveillance can have a large effect on the privacy laws and rights in Canada, and the ways we see each other in terms of human rights.