On track mind
If you’re being watched, watch back says Tech Sunday.
There is nothing as irritating as being interrupted a page short of a story’s ending, by someone who finds some sort of enjoyment in reading over your shoulder.
Well, actually there is something that gets deeper under your skin, and that’s having someone constantly looking over your shoulder to see what you are doing, where you are going and who you are talking to.
But that’s the way we live now, moving targets within a context that would have made George Orwell’s eyes glaze over – CCTV cameras record our every movement, location-based services read and transmit our position, Google Street View takes photos of where we work and play, and websites track our online activity.
It’s a neighbourhood watch gone wrong because, instead of protecting our privacy, this surveillance culture seriously chips at our privacy. But there are ways of avoiding prying eyes, especially online. The most effective way is to delete third party cookies that follow our online life. Facebook, for instance, tracks you even when you are not logged in – rather than expire, Facebook’s cookies are altered to allow the site to keep tabs on your activity. You can delete these cookies through your browser’s privacy settings. For added safety, you can also install privacy plug-ins.
As for nosy cameras, the most effective way to escape being watched is watching back. This is called ‘sousveillance’ and is the monitoring of events not by those above (‘sur’) but by the citizens from below (hence, ‘sous’).
This term was coined by Steve Mann, one of the pioneers of wearable computing. In the 1990s, Mann put on a head-mounted camera and went around capturing and posting events online. The side effect was that it made security guards and police very uneasy, showing how effective a solution watching back can be.