A Day in the Digital Life: A Preliminary Sousveillance Study
Social Science Research Network
A decade ago, Castells argued that most surveillance would have no directly damaging consequences. He proposed that what should be of more concern were the unpredictable consequences of our over-exposed lives, the lack of explicit rules for on-line behaviour and how this then was interpreted by a 'multitude of little sisters' who process and store this information, forever (Castells 2001:180). A decade later, these conjectures are still valid but are now at a critical level as individuals
... ely volunteer personal information while government and commercial organisations aggressively amass these snippets into correlated data. As boundaries between on-line and off-line blur, and geo-locative applications grow in popularity, we echo Castells by asking, what will be, and what are, the privacy implications of existing in a technologically saturated environment? The human data trail now begins prior to conception and continues after death. We aim to develop a methodology to enable us to quantify this trail and to examine the impact that such amassment of data has on society, communities, and personal identities within the UK. The reality is that the digital footprint is a significant research challenge to identify and then quantify. There is a critical need to capture relevant activities in a holistic and interconnected manner in order to enable understanding of the societal implications. We describe a preliminary study which will be used as a starting point to develop appropriate methods for quantification and analysis of the 21 st century digital footprint.