There is a widespread sense amongst the public that surveillance is inevitable, shows a study following the Snowden revelations.
The British public is uneasy with the extent of data collection and surveillance revealed in documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden since June 2013. But there is a widespread sense of resignation to its inevitability, coupled with confusion as to the purpose, degrees and practices of surveillance, says a two-year study of the nature, opportunities and challenges of digital citizenship following Snowden's revelations.
Findings point to 'surveillance realism' – a condition in which imagining alternative ways of organising society has become increasingly difficult. "One strand of our research illustrates the extent to which the possibilities for change post-Snowden have been stifled by limited public debate and knowledge, feelings of disempowerment, and systematic reinforcement of state and corporate interests above those of citizens," says Dr Arne Hintz.
"In the project we also analysed media reporting of surveillance, impacts on civil society and technological infrastructure, and policy reform. As a result, we have developed a new understanding of digital citizenship in the era of omnipresent data collection and analysis in which citizens are increasingly profiled and categorised according to their personal data, and explored ways to address this new reality."