Firstly, this document aims to identify the surveillance objectives of EVI applications and related these objectives to Lyon’s (2002) distinction of ‘categorical seduction’ and ‘categorical suspicion’. Secondly, it will provide discussion of the moral implications of surveillance technology on society and refer to philosophical perspective on resolving ethical dilemmas, as highlighted by Ayers.
Introduction Since September 11th, surveillance of the general public has increased at an astonishing rate. It appears that legislation like the so called ‘Snoopers’ Charter’i is getting passed through Government without the fierce opposition it would have received pre 9/11. Have we now all become suspects? Whether the increasing level of surveillance is owing to, the recent advances in digital technologies, the Governments more favourable attitude towards surveillance or a combination of both, the reality is that there are an ever increasing number of new surveillance opportunities are arising.
New applications of surveillance technology are being developed continuously, with a wide-range of varying objectives. The objectives of such applications have fuelled debate in terms of the morality and ethical integrity of such new applications. For the purpose of this assignment I will focus on the development of ‘Electronic vehicle Identification’ for further investigation. (As I don’t have the scope to investigate any other surveillance technologies in detail). Firstly I will describe EVI technology, and then examine its purpose in terms of its surveillance function. In addition I will consider EVI ostensive objectives in relation to David Lyons categories of ‘categorical seduction’ and ‘categorical Suspicion’. Are the objectives are equally balanced? Or is EVI purely for risk management purposes?
Subsequently, I will review the ethical dilemma facing all surveillance techniques in general, in relation to philosophical perspectives put forward by Ayers (1999). I will use EVI as an example of surveillance and discuss the ethical perspective outlined by Ayers. Electronic Vehicle Identification As mentioned, one new technology in particular, which gives rise to new surveillance opportunities is a vehicle tracking technology known as Electronic Vehicle Identification (EVI). EVI can suitably be defined as: “an electronic device that allows the unique remote and reliable communications of a vehicle’s identifying parameters”.
EVI is an enabler of various applications and is not an application in itself. The technology allows vehicles to be identified and the location of vehicle to be recorded. This is achieved by each vehicle having some type of data storage element (smartcard / smart object) which holds the vehicle Identification number (VIN), a user interface and a vehicle-to-infrastructure data communications device. The road network infrastructure would also include various types of antennas to communicate with the vehicles system. “EVI is an enabler for public applications meeting stringent requirements regarding security, privacy and fraud resistance. Implemented in the most basic, rudimentary way it could have some benefits in terms of efficiency when identifying vehicles.”
If EVI was only implemented in its simplest form it wouldn’t classify as what many people would regard as surveillance. So what exactly is surveillance? Well, the exact definition of ‘surveillance’ is hard to identify, for example in the Concise Oxford Dictionary ‘surveillance’ is defined as “close observation, especially of suspected persons”. However this isn’t entirely correct in relation to EVI as all vehicles would be observed.
William G. Staples defines surveillance as “the act of keeping close watch on people” (staples 1997). This definition is more suitable as it doesn’t include ‘suspected persons’ instead just ‘people’ as a whole. Both of these definitions are still focussed on the ‘observation’ or ‘keeping close watch’ on people respectively. However, in today ‘surveillance society’ (Lyon) with the introduction of ‘new surveillance’v techniques, David Lyon enhanced definition of ‘surveillance’ is seemingly more apt. “…any collection and processing of personal data, whether identifiable or not, for the purpose of influencing or managing those whose data have been garnered” (Lyon 2001)
Lyon, further extends the definition to suggest that surveillance functions as a method of power and control for influencing those persons who’s data has been obtained. Therefore, it is uncertain whether the implementation of EVI in its simplest form would constitute surveillance, as it is only a means of identifying a vehicle. Then again, the implementation of EVI in a more sophisticated fashion would undeniably be classed as surveillance. “Among the potentially supported applications are enforcement, emergency and transit vehicle priority, crime prevention and detection, vehicle administration and registration, environmental issues, and applications such as demand management, traffic monitoring and road charging.”
These advanced applications do have a surveillance function as defined by Lyon, as their general purpose is to process the data captured by EVI in order to influence and manage ‘data-subjects’. These advanced EVI applications would work similarly to existing surveillance applications, in that they would utilise a combination of data provided by various databases / data sources.
The exact public objectives of each proposed EVI application are not possible to ascertain, due to the lack of finalised information. I have therefore made some assumptions about the exact objectives of each type of potential EVI application being investigated for EU-wide implementation by ERTICO Enforcement – I assume this relates to the enforcement of traffic regulation, and its objective are therefore to improve the efficiency of identifying individuals who don’t comply with traffic regulations, related to parking, bus lanes and speed limits.
Crime prevention and detection – This will relate to stolen vehicles being identified quicker. As well as being a powerful ‘plug-in’ for existing agencies such as the police, MI5 and GCHQ. (Possible MI6 if EVI is implemented throughout Europe). Traffic Regulation (vehicle administration and registration) – This would be used to identify vehicles without valid road tax and/or M.O.T certificates. This could help the DVLA reduce their ï¿½200m road tax evasion bill and also keep un-roadworthy vehicles off UK roads.”