The thinking allowed podcast by BBC sounds explores a range of different topics, this one I chose focused on the subjects of Surveillance. Laurie Taylor, the host of Thinking Allowed, explores how we have become the watchers, as well as the watched. From 9/11 to the Snowden leaks, stories about surveillance increasingly dominate the headlines.
Laurie opens the podcast by explaining about a fictional character which he explains as real from the data he has gotten off of her Facebook page and how easy it is for strangers to gather information about you and your day to day life. Laurie interviews David Lyon, the author of “The Culture of Surveillance: Watching as a Way of Life.” Lyon discusses and references George Orwell’s, 1984 (Which I might have to revisit after my previous post…) discussing “the image of Big Brother and being attacked by rats deflects the message of what is going on with actual surveillance.” Explaining how with new computer technologies, us as members of the public agreeing and not reading term and conditions and joining public WiFi servers. The participation of everyday devices, “terms of service, we click on it but don’t read it…” Lyon explains the use of everything we do now having data attached to it, such as card transactions and how the data the is stored like name and timings but not the actual contents. How do you feel about this, do you have anything to hide?
The Edward Snowden incident from 2013 got brought up in conversation also discussing how he leaked information to the NSA which Obama allegedly planned a cyberattack and how the NSA used webcams, undisclosed for a facial recognition database. Finally, how the U.K. Government had a secret deal with the NSA for records of phone, internet and email records of U.K. citizens.
Laurie Taylor then refers to one of my favourite theories a “bookshelf sweetheart” Alexa. I do believe home appliances do listen all the time waiting for the wake word, as they describe it. Sometimes they come on even when the wake word isn’t even mentioned. His wife let the paranoia get to her and covered up the Alexa exclaiming “we don’t want everyone knowing we watch Love Island… do we?”
The main thing I took away from the podcast is that we need to put care before control and know what data we are letting online for others to see.