Protecting privacy in public? Surveillance technologies and the value of public places

Ethics and Information Technology 2 (3):181-187 (2000)
Abstract
While maintaining the importance of privacy for critical evaluations of surveillance technologies, I suggest that privacy also constrains the debate by framing analyses in terms of the individual. Public space provides a site for considering what is at stake with surveillance technologies besides privacy. After describing two accounts of privacy and one of public space, I argue that surveillance technologies simultaneously add an ambiguityand a specificity to public places that are detrimental to the social, cultural, and civic importance of these places. By making public places accessible to other places and/or times, surveillance technologies make these social contexts ambiguous by blurring their spatial and temporal bounds. At the same time, surveillancetechnologies valence public places in functionally specificways that are detrimental to informal civic life. To complement defensive approaches to surveillance technologies based onindividual privacy, I conclude by suggesting how sociality as a relational value or an ethics of place as a contextual value could provide a proactive line of reasoning for affirming the value ofthat which is between people and places.
Keywords privacy   public space   sociality   surveillance   technology
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