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School of Law, Governance and Citizenship Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD)

Invites you to a talk on Surveillance and Algorithms: Evaluating Digital Technologies in 21st Century

By Sneha Sara Felix, P. Arun and Paroma Ray


About the talk:

Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp; WannaCry Ransomware or Pegasus spyware attack; Biometrics, CCTV or Drone; virtual assistants such as Alexa and Siri, and many more have become buzzwords and events dominating our everyday lives. Alongside the major developments of these digital technologies, there has also been the emergence of sophisticated surveillance mechanisms and algorithmic techniques. It raises doubts about whether we are living in a digitally monitored and algorithmically controlled society. If the answer is affirmative, then it further requires probe into the nature of society under these digital technologies in the 21st Century.

On the one hand, there is greater ‘fear’ concerning intrusive surveillance by the state and on the other, the ‘fantasy’ of surveillance being a solution to prevent crimes. This discussion will try to understand the nature of surveillance from historical times by looking into methods of identification of people by the state. It would further be looking into changes wherein society interacts and participates in day-to-day surveillance. Secondly, the issues surrounding communications surveillance are myriad as they have become common and ordinary techniques for the prevention and investigation of crimes particularly those related to terrorism, in India. More importantly, the outcome of such normalisation of surveillance without any accountability and transparency violates the individual right to privacy. Thirdly, the most common expectation with technologies is to find solutions to a range of human problems in an effective and efficient manner. Most importantly, technology is believed to be universal, neutral and uninfluenced. However, technology by design is heavily influenced by several socio-economic factors. Here the power relations need to be looked at which shape and affect the fundamental design of cyber technology in our daily lives.

About the Speakers:

Sneha Sara Felix, P. Arun and Paroma Ray are research scholars at the Department of Political Science, University of Delhi working in the field of digital regulations and cyber surveillance. They are currently with the School of Law Governance and Citizenship, AUD as adjunct faculty members.