Mason & Magnet 12

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Intersectionality Alt

We must embrace an intersectional understanding of surveillance technologies that problematizes it’s coupling with legal apparatuses that disproportionately affect women of color

Mason & Magnet 12 [Corinne Lysandra, and Shoshana Magnet. "Surveillance studies and violence against women." surveillance & society 10, no. 2 (2012): 105-118.]

It is a difficult task to critique surveillance technologies aimed at ensuring women’s safety against abusers. When made visible as anti-violence tools, technologies of surveillance appear to be uncontroversial to a range of actors. Certainly, women’s safety is a priority for feminists, as is ending violence practices. Yet, the widespread promotion of surveillance tools for anti-violence means must be challenged. By overlooking the complex ways that surveillance practices and technologies are entrenched within the prison industrial complex, one might miss key challenges that surveillance technologies pose to anti-violence strategies. Whether it is smartphones, iPhone applications, Google maps, or home surveillance, feminist surveillance studies scholars must investigate the ways that existing inequalities may be exacerbated by their use. The surveillance technologies that are offered to women as safety measures, such as cell phones, smartphone applications, internet-browsing safety and home security systems, are all targeted toward interpersonal violence. Mainstream and criminalized understandings of VAW wrongfully assume that violence is perpetrated by individual abusers who must be incarcerated. Anti-violence advocates including Andrea Smith (2008) and Angela Davis (2003, 2005) remind us that the prison industrial complex has done little to promote anti-violence strategies. Rather than examining the widespread, systemic nature of violence against women, instead, the prison industrial complex has simply incarcerated ever-growing numbers of people––particularly indigenous people and people of colour. Moreover, it is well studied that violence in the prison system only continues the cycle of violence, as abusers are incarcerated, treated violently in the prison system, and then released (Gilligan 2000). In fact, radical anti-violence activists argue that prison abolition must be a part of any violence strategy in order to interrupt this cycle of violence, a conclusion with which we heartily concur. Practices of violence must always be connected to systems of power and domination, including state-perpetrated racist and sexist violence. Unfortunately, much of the literature on surveillance technologies has focused on individual acts of stalking and control. Of course, feminist literature on the subject of technology and stalking is important. However, in order to understand how surveillance affects the perpetration of violence and influences tactics to end violence practices, feminists must think more broadly and intersectionally about VAW and the connections between surveillance, sexism, racism, and the prison system. Importantly, the surveillance of vulnerable bodies by the state, policing services and even social service providers disproportionately target marginalized and exploited communities. In recent years, feminist and critical race explorations of policing and surveillance have necessarily included the experiences of Arab, Middle Eastern, South Asian and Muslim men and women. While such racialized bodies have always been targeted in white supremacist nations, post-9/11 security rhetoric around national security has helped to shore up surveillance measures. While honour killings, forced marriages, polygamy and dowry-related murders have received increased and disproportionate media attention in the U.S. and Canadian media since 9/11, mainstream conceptions of violence against women of colour are rarely inclusive of harassment, racist violence and sexual abuse at home and abroad at the hands of military and law enforcement agencies (Ritchie 2006: 139). Such violent crimes against women are insufficiently attended to in mainstream anti-violence strategies, and technologies aimed at women’s safety may intensify the surveillance and further criminalization of particular communities. Surveillance ‘flaws’ such as those found in iPhones and iPads are used by the criminal justice system as tools to help them make arrests (Chen 2008). For those already criminalized and stigmatized, including indigenous people and people of colour, especially Arab, Middle Eastern and Muslim individuals post-9/11, surveillance ‘flaws’ will have a disproportionate effect. Placing marginalized, stigmatized and often criminalized women at the centre of feminist surveillance studies reveals that technologies aimed at the protection from individual abusers, and the arrest of perpetrators, does not work for all cases of violent practices. To be sure, it is a step in the right direction for Google maps and Google Street View to ensure that the addresses of women’s shelters are not exposed to the public (National Network to End Violence Against Women 2010). However, feminists should also be concerned with the impact of Google maps and Google Street View for the surveillance of street level sex workers. Problematically, Google maps has allowed street view pictures of women to be visible and circulated widely over the internet. Moreover, the feminist blog Jezebel (2011) noted that, as a result of Google pictures of sex workers, a book titled ‘Roadside Prostitutes’ has now been published in which women are objectified for the viewing pleasure of others, and without remuneration. The distribution of images reveals pictures of workers who often work anonymously, in illegal bawdy houses, or on the street, and require protection from both unsafe clients and law enforcement where their work is criminalized. For indigenous women, people of colour, queer, and non-gender conforming folks taking part in sex work, the visibilization of their bodies and workplaces put them at an even greater risk of violence. Given that these communities are already heavily surveilled by law enforcement, especially those working at street level, the public access to these images compounds safety issues. Sex workers have pointed out that violence is practiced by unsafe clients, but is also experienced at the hands of policing services. For example, due to the criminalization of sex work in Canada, workers are unable to lawfully unionize or assemble for protection, unable to work indoors, and often cannot call on police for help because they risk arrest (Power 2011). The distribution of Google map and Google Street View photos of sex workers and their work places puts women at risk of violence and should be considered alongside protecting shelter addresses when anti-violence advocates work with Google. Yet, sex workers and other marginalized communities have been left out of the mainstream discussions about surveillance technologies and VAW.


Our alternative is to conceptualize the right to privacy within a socialist framework

Fuchs 2011 [Christian. "The Political Economy of Privacy." The Internet & Surveillance 8 (2011).//shaREEF]

Privacy in capitalism protects the rich companies and the wealthy. The anonymity of wealth, high incomes, and profits makes income and wealth gaps between the rich and the poor secrets and thereby ideologically helps legitimize and uphold these gaps. It can therefore be considered an ideological mechanism that helps reproducing and deepening inequality. It would nonetheless be a mistake to fully cancel off privacy rights and to dismiss them as bourgeois values. I argue for going beyond a bourgeois notion of privacy and to advance a socialist notion of privacy that tries to strengthen the protection of consumers and citizens from corporate surveillance. Economic privacy is therefore posited as undesireable in those cases, where it protects the rich and capital from public accountability, but as desirable, where it tries to protect citizens from corporate surveillance. Economic privacy is therefore posited as undesirable in those in those cases where it protects the rich and capital from public accountability, but as desirable, where it tries to protect citizens from corporate surveillance. Public surveillance of the income of the rich and of companies and public mechanisms that make their wealth transparent are desirable for making wealth and income gaps in capitalism visible, whereas privacy protection for workers and consumers from corporate surveillance is also important. In a socialist privacy concept, existing liberal privacy values have therefore to be reversed. Whereas today we mainly find surveillance of the poor and of citizens who are not capital owners, a socialist privacy concept focuses on surveillance of capital and the rich in order to increase transparency and privacy protection of consumers and worker. A socialist privacy concept conceives privacy as collective right of dominated and exploited groups that need to be protected from corporate domination that aims at gathering information about workers and consumers for accumulating capital, disciplining workers and consumers, and for increasing the productivity of capitalist production and advertising. The liberal conception and reality of privacy as individual right within capitalism protect the rich and the accumulation of ever more wealth from public knowledge. A socialist privacy concept as collective right of workers and consumers can protect humans from the misuse of their data by companies. The question therefore is: privacy for whom? Privacy for dominant groups in regard to secrecy of wealth and power can be problematic, whereas privacy at the bottom of the power pyramid for consumers and normal citizens can be a protection from dominant interests. Privacy rights should therefore be differentiated according to the position people and groups occupy in the power structure. Etzioni (1999) stresses that liberal privacy concepts typically focus on privacy invasions by the state, but ignore privacy invasions by companies. The contemporary undermining of public goods by overstressing privacy rights would not be caused by the state, but rather stem “from the quest for profit by some private companies. Indeed, I find that these corporations now regularly amass detailed accounts about many aspects of the personal lives of millions of individuals, profiles of the kind that until just a few years ago could be compiled only by the likes of the East German Stasi. […] Consumers, employees, even patients and children have little protection from state interference into private spheres, but to identify those cases, where political regulation is needed for the protection of the rights of consumers and workers. Marx says that socialists do not want to put away the “ ‘private individual’ for the sake of the ‘general’, selfless man”, rather they “have discovered that throughout history the ‘general interest’ is created by individuals who are defined as ‘private persons’. They know that this contradiction is only a seeming one because one side of it, what is called ‘general interest’, is constantly being produced by the other side, private interest, and in relation to the latter is by no means an independent force with an independent history—so that this contradiction is in practice constantly destroyed and reproduced” (Marx and Engels 1846, 264). A socialist politics of privacy does not want to destroy individuality that is enabled by general wealth and allows individuals a multitude of individual options in their lives that are not limited by class relations, scarcity, poverty, compulsory wage labour, or other forms of coercion. If we understand capitalism as a system that is based on the private ownership of the means of production by the capitalist class in which workers make use of these means in order to produce commodities that contain surplus value and are sold on the market in order to realize profit and accumulate capital, then it becomes clear that the relation of privacy and capitalism has been pointed out by some of the main thinkers of modernity including Karl Marx, Jurgen Habermas, and Hannah Arendt. Their works indicate the rise of the modern notion of privacy is connected to the modern idea of private property. In most 20th century liberal theories privacy, aspects of capitalism and class were ignored and there has been a focus on privacy as a human right and form of freedom. Marx, Habermas, and Arendt remind us of the inherent negativity of the modern privacy concept and that it is not necessary to get rid of the privacy concept, but rather to redefine it in a way that advances the protection of consumers and employees from corporate exploitation and domination on as collective right. It is time to break with the liberal tradition in privacy studies and to think about alternatives.

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