“What About My Privacy?”: Exploring Perceptions Towards Increased Surveillance
Keywords:Institutional Trust, Privacy, Surveillance, Pandemic
AbstractIn the past few years, states and organisations have made use of technology to increasingly track, and monitor the population; the onset of COVID-19 was further used to validate and justify these surveillance systems. During the pandemic, the administration was focused on detecting the trends of the diseases for which, the surveillance systems require information about what is happening inside our bodies, such as our body temperature and heart rate, in order to determine whether we are ill (Eck ; Hatz 2020). These noticeable trends marked a significant change in surveillance techniques from “over the skin” to “under the skin” surveillance which is not just restricted to monitoring overt behaviour but also recurrent patterns of traits, habits and feelings (Harari, 2020). The study aimed to explore people’s perceptions about the government and corporations using their personal data for extensive surveillance. Law enforcement and the security mechanism use the vast amount of data gathered to fulfil their security objectives, eventually leading to the institutions breaching the boundaries of their control. Focus group discussion (n=9) was conducted to gain insights regarding political surveillance and its relational understanding of an individual’s sense of privacy, perceived control, and trust in political institutions. Using thematic analysis, key themes ranged from the absence of institutional trust in citizens, privacy and its susceptibility to breaches to pandemic-induced changes in surveillance. In conclusion, the consequences and the broader impact of such views held on an individual level are discussed.
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