Please activate JavaScript!
Please install Adobe Flash Player, click here for download

uni'wissen 02-2015_ENG

Why public perception should play an important role in the development of new technologies Surveillance and Its Consequences by Thomas Goebel What feelings, thoughts, and actions does surveillance elicit in people? What effects does a camera on a public building have, for example? Does it make people feel safe or controlled, are they concerned about what might happen with their images, and does it perhaps even lead them to change their behavior? These are the kinds of questions the philosopher Dr. Elisa Orrù addresses in her work – at a Euro- pean level. She is a research assistant and ha- bilitation candidate at the University of Freiburg’s Husserl Archive. She also studied practical philo- sophical aspects of surveillance technologies as a part of the interdisciplinary European Union- funded research project SURVEILLE. The Uni- versity of Freiburg’s part of the project is being conducted at the Centre for Security and Society. The initial question is “How do European citizens perceive surveillance – and how can this percep- tion be taken into account in developing new technologies?” However, the question contains a problem from a philosophical-ethical perspective, says Orrù: “One doesn’t want surveillance technolo- gies to be seen in a negative light, but one can’t deceive the people either.” Hence, the goal in developing new technologies cannot be to manipulate them such that people don’t even realize anymore whether and how they are being observed. On the contrary, the goal must be a method that takes the perceptions of those con- cerned seriously and is compatible with the European values of democracy and the rule of law. To this end, Orrù began by studying what nega- tive effects surveillance can have. She analyzed 36 When people have the feeling that they are being watched, it can have negative consequences on their behavior and lead them to stop exercising their right of freedom of assembly. Photo: viappy/Fotolia