September 25, 2007

on cameras and privacy

Just a short thought, but as infringing as cameras may be on one's privacy, and in some cases people don't pay attention to them, don't you think they serve some good in terms of catching thieves or the like? Look at the case of the Chicago cop who beat up that bartender for not serving was caught on camera..


JK said...

I agree that cameras can serve a useful purpose, as I believe Foucault outlines well in his description of the panopticon. It seems as though as a society we must sacrifice having 100% privacy in exchange for our safety. Foucault illustrates the impact that vision constraints can act as a useful punishment tool. Within the boundaries of the panopticon, prisoners are clearly aware that they can be watched at any time. This feeling of uneasiness is what forces the individuals to follow the rules. My only concern with Foucault’s point that taking away one’s vision and at the same time letting the prisoners know that they are being watched is I that start to wonder if “vision” is really the issue of control here. I would think that people would have the same reaction if they were aware that they could get caught doing anything. The one thought that comes to my mind comes from security measures that large corporations use in order to keep tabs on their employees. As we all know, email has taken over the lives of many of us in the year 2007 and we tend to take email invasion as personally as any other type of invasion, including visual. The feeling that your emails are being read is another measure that is used today in order to control people and stop them from sending or receiving illegal messages. My point is that I wonder if “vision” should really be the main variable examined in the panopitcon, or is it merely the feeling of invasion- whether it’s someone watching you, reading your emails, going through your belongings…etc. Perhaps I’m taking Foucault’s concept of “vision” too literally, but it seemed in his discussion that he was clearly zoning in on the literal act of vision as the main point of control, rather than concentrating on the psychological aspect of the loss of privacy. Therefore, I understand that his point is that controlling someone visually (making sure they are aware that they are being watched) results in the insecure feeling that will keep his/her actions under control, but I don’t think that “vision” is the only way to do this. Stripping someone of their privacy, whether visually or any other way will conclude in the same result.

Meg said...

jk...I agree with your comments. ("It seems as though as a society we must sacrifice having 100% privacy in exchange for our safety.") and Vision can encompass many things. Based on the world we live in everything now seems to be watched.