To Track, Or Not To Track

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For my digital artefact, I created a YouTube Channel with useful information and discussions on the ethical implications on tracking humans. This channel has four videos currently but can be expanded by getting more families to discuss their own opinions on the issue. To go to the channel, click here!

Contextual Essay:

The area of study I choice to explore encompassed an aspect of cyber surveillance, geoslavery and tracking devices which has not yet been fully unraveled by society. Throughout this project I have been able to draw conclusions using my own experiences as someone who has been tracked along with using academic, pop culture, news and political sources to frame my argument involving the ethics of tracking humans.

In the context of this investigation, I cumulatively utilised primary experimental research (a discussion video with my family) and secondary research to fully engross myself in the content and topic i would be mediating. In this way, the mediation of my work would take the route of conveying four YouTube videos and a YouTube Channel to assist in creating a forum or community space for further discussion on tracking.

I wanted to make my content simple and easily digestible for an audience to not only educate but assist in their understanding of my complicated topic matter. Not only does this visual experience entertain, but cultivates conversation and entertains an audience through reliability and humorous opinions.

These videos encompassed the three main ideologies that have been emphasised as the ethical issues and frameworks of tracking humans. These key concepts were the ethical tracking framework (McNamee, 2005), Geoslavery (Dobson, 2003) and Surveillance Culture (Lyon, 2017).

This research was then assisted by multiple journal articles such as Cues of Being Watched Enhance Cooperation in a Real-World Setting (Beaman et al. 1979) and Self-awareness and transgression in children: Two field studies (Bateson 2006) to assist in examining the effects of tracking devices on children. The adverse effects it can have on a children’s adolescence, growth and sense of self has then also been discussed as children who are being tracked or are under surveillance feel “quite subdued, very conforming, and felt they couldn’t express themselves” (Baker, 2016).

This mediation and research all leads back to Haraway’s (1985) cyborg manifesto, as we use tracking technology as an extension of ourselves in a transition to becoming cyborgs. However, we fear that technology will indeed replace us, being personified as a Frankenstein which portrays technology which is used in harmony with humans as being monstrous. This can be attributed to tracking devices and their unethical use. Yet, through this research, I have found the ethical uses of these devices to be quite profound and truly ethical in assisting society.

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Reasons for ethical and unethical use of GPS tracking devices (McNamee, pp. 57, 2015).

It is the unethical use of these devices that correlates to the misuse of them as individuals (either knowingly or unknowingly) use these devices to carry out unethical actions (Lyon, 2017). All in all, these devices are meant for security and safety, this line is blurred when concepts such as Geoslavery and Surveillance Culture are thrown in the mix.

My early arguments and analysis of this topic had very little weight to them as my bias was against that of tracking humans in the first place. I can now explain why I reject these notions and can identify key components as to why the uses of these technologies is both ethical and unethical.

Also, realising how negatively tracking devices have been portrayed in pop-culture media sources such as The Net, Black Mirror’s Arkangel, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, The Dark Knight Rises and other various film, television and text based mediums has most likely influenced my opinion. The obvious ethical ramifications of an evolving technology in these dystopian cyber-punk contexts flourished an ideology of how unethical tracking is in my own mind.

The following are three iterations of the mediation of my research along with a discussion video acting as another form of mediation. This was implemented to further emphasise the commercial uses of tracking and the ethical circumstances that individuals can find themselves in with utilising this technology,

Ethics

A basis of which I based the main point of my digital artefact and research. The ethics of tracking humans have both positive and negative attributes with the line between protection and stalking becoming increasingly blurred.

It is here that I realised that ethics in regards to this technology is largely opinion based with very little way to change someone’s opinion about it. However, if we are able to educate and acknowledge the flaws in the technology as well as the humans, the amount of unethical actions regarding this technology may be reduced (Kaplan, 2012).

The inherent problem lies with the accessibility of the technology and simplistic usability that are major issues in facilitating unethical tracking practices. The discussion around the ethical use of this tracking technology, why we would track and how we would track is the most interesting and fulfilling to the investigation.

Geoslavery

The first, truly horrifying aspect of unethical tracking established a concept which truly is a “human rights issue” (Dobson, 2003) as people become slaves to their geographical location.

By defining the concept briefly and establishing it’s relevance to the topic, I hope to define another aspect of unethical tracking and leverage it for my research. Asking my family about Geoslavery further emphasised the lack of knowledge that people have about tracking ethics.

In the situation of children, the parent is the master and the child is the slave. The issue of tracking children then does not only involve of privacy and surveillance but becomes especially concerning when children’s ‘rights are stripped from them’ (Thomas, 2016) in favour of their ‘parents control’ (Dobson, 2003).

Surveillance Culture

In correlation with the two concepts above, this is where our current culture is shifting to in the future, where pop-culture content such as Black Mirrors Arkangel will become a reality (Hutson, 2016). My digital artefact briefly defines this concept and further establishes individuals opinions as the idea of this new culture was discussed.

The overarching term that I gained from this primary research was the idea of “If I’m not doing anything wrong, I shouldn’t worry.” However, this idea is inherently flawed as millions of pieces of our own personal data is shared around constantly, manipulating us subtly into thinking that we are choosing to make decisions such as online purchases and a somewhat false sense of security (Williams, 2016).

We are in a digital age of “pervasive and ubiquitous computing” (Smith, 2018) whereby, privacy has become a right instead of being complementary to breathing. Surveillance Culture is an increasingly dangerous socio-political problem pertaining to a community (or individuals) paranoia of those around them.

Conclusion

Tracking is therefore one of the many “issues and concerns which have arisen as a result of the proliferation of digitally-enabled communication, networked computation and media technologies and internet practices.” (Moore, 2018). It truly cultivates this relationship between a digital and a reality complex, where we can identify that technology is making considerable bounds in becoming increasingly prevalent in human activities. In this context, it is not the technology as Haraway mentions, it is the lack of knowledge surrounding its ethical use that we should be concerned about.

~krisesandchrosses~


References:

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