This week I have decided on trying to get a stand at the Chaos Communication Congress I planned to attend during Christmas and New Year. With privacy issues and the use of surveillance technology as a case study or starting point for my PhD I want to take the opportunity to discuss these issues with experts in their fields and people interested in privacy. I believe this will inform my coming PhD work and allow me to develop a stronger argument why current concepts and technologies are not sufficient.
I feel I need to make clear that I am not taking a stand against technology per se. I am not even taking a stand against monitoring or tracking technology. But the more I read about this topic, the more I feel that the systems currently available are not sufficient. And I feel they are not open about what needs they are developed for.
Critical voice argue that tracking technology does not keep people safe who wander off on their own. And I think this is an important argument. Even though they may enable people to be found easier, they do not prevent accidents. But they are marketed or perceived to make walking safe. This discrepancy is interesting in istself and tells me that a ‘peace of mind’ technology for carers is needed. One that does not tell him where the person with dementia is, but that he is safe.
The other point I am thinking about a lot is the notion that trackers have to be tiny and hidden away. Which is argued to be done as not to stigmatise the wearer. But I am wondering if one of the reasons might be that we feel uncomfortable about them. What about large, but beautiful or intersting devices? A large brooch that the wearer can see and ask what it does in case he forgets? What about a drone following or even leading someone like a ‘guarding angel’? How people would feel about, interact with such devices might be one interesting question for my upcoming work. Or another Phd for another person.
But I am pleased that I have taken on my own assignment to do something at the Chaos Communication Congress. It has changed my aproach to this PhD and made it more my project again. It has started to make it more creative, more experimental. Which seems to be quite important at this stage, where I lost my inspiration. Even if I do not get interesting data out of it or if I change back to my original topic after, I feel that it has an important decision at this stage.
For the next week I work on the ethics approval of this study, start to plan out more detailed what the different tools will look like and follow up on my attempt to find out more how common the measures I critique with these tools are used in practice.