Cyborg Unplug vs Spycam disguised as a Smoke Detector

In this ‘lab test’ we look at a very popular covert surveillance device, cunningly disguised as that most innocuous of devices, a smoke detector. Unlike wireless cameras disguised as wall clocks or iPod docks, spy devices in this form are far less likely to be tampered with, let alone discovered. Not only are they just out of reach, they’re considered part of the local emergency infrastructure, meaning it’s far less likely someone will take them down for inspection. All the while, from their ceiling mounted position, they’re ideal for monitoring the activities within a room.

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The privacy issues around wearable tech? | The coil interviews: Dr. Katinia Michael

Great pod cast discussing the privacy issues around wearable tech.

The COIL is a weekly radio show/podcast exploring the nexus of technology and culture.

Katina Michael is an associate professor in the School of Information Systems and Technology and a member of the Institute for Innovation in Business and Social Research (IIBSOR) at the University of Wollongong. She is the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine editor-in-chief and also serves on the editorial board of Elsevier’s Computers & Security journal. Since 2008 she has been a board member of the Australian Privacy Foundation.


The pod cast is a great primer on the privacy issues around wearable tech. In particular as a function of it’s pervasiveness. If you are in the mood for some more detail, Katrina Michael’s papers on wearables, implants and privacy can be found here.

Consequences of Big Data on the Individual

Marcus Wigan expands on his article “Big Data’s Big Unintended Consequences” and discusses how businesses and governments exploit big data without regard for issues of legality, data quality, disparate data meanings, and process quality. This often results in poor decisions, with individuals bearing the greatest risk.

From Computer’s June 2013 issue

First arrest captured by google glass.

Notice the long tracking shots. Also notice that no one notices. Now imagine 10% of the population doing this all the time, walking in and out of buildings and homes.  Imagine all this data being time stamped and geotagged,  flowing to a large database in the cloud. A omniscient eye; a real time streetview extending into homes and businesses; society as a glass prism.

There has been a certain amount of discussion casting this as a great step forward for ‘citizen journalism’. While undoubtedly it is true that more news footage will be captured by amateurs, this does not mean that citizens will become investigative journalists exposing systematic issues. Rather citizens will become crowd sourced paparazzi and informers. They will of course expose celebs. They will catch the occasional crime or even Rodney King style police abuse not just humorous incidents. However this will still be embedded within the dominant dispositif. They will contribute images to be judged by the existing legal, economic and media apparatus rather than challenging it. This is not the activist journalism of Indymedia, secret revelations of ‘Spies For Peace‘ and Wikileaks, or the muck raking investigation of Private Eye but rather the crowd sourced submission of America’s Funniest Home Videos or World’s Dumbest criminals. Video is typically something which reveals human actions rather than systematic organizational issues. The normalizing gaze is extended and reproduced not fundamentally challenged by placing cameras on people’s heads.

Big Data and the Dangers of Over-Quantifying Oneself


Katina Michael at the University of Wollongong discusses how we can live with many of the uncertainties of big data for now, with the hope that its benefits will outweigh its harms, but we shouldnít blind ourselves to the possible irreversibility of changes–whether good or bad–to society.


Read more here