Currently Happening Presently Now: GEOSLAVERY

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Goss, J. (1995). "We Know Who You Are and We Know Where You Live": The Instrumental Rationality of Geodemographic Systems. Economic Geography, 171-198.

This paper provides a critique of geodemographic systems, sophisticated marketing tools that combine massive electronic data bases on consumer characteristics and behavior, segmentation schemes, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Responsible for a "revolution" in marketing research, geodemographics represents a strategy to exercise rational knowledge-power over everyday life. This critique examines the strategic implications of each component of geodemographics, including electronic surviellance and the erosion of privacy; GIS, spatial inference, and the representation of social space; and segmentation and construction of consumer identity. The paper concludes with remarks about the role of the consumer in geodemographics and the potential for tactical resistances to its strategy.

Curry, M. R. (1997). The digital individual and the private realm. Annals of the Association of American geographers, 87(4), 681-699.

Geographic information systems and the technological family associated with them—global positioning systems, geodemographics, and remote surveillance systems—raise important questions with respect to the issue of privacy. Of most immediate import, the systems store and represent data in ways that render ineffective the most popular safeguards against privacy abuse. But the systems are associated with more fundamental changes in the right to privacy and even, some would say, with challenges to the possibility of privacy itself. They make reasonable and acceptable the view that technological change is inevitable and autonomous, and therefore, too, are the development of increasingly comprehensive dossiers on individuals and households and the use of increasingly powerful means for the technological enhancements of vision. And their use in the creation of data profiles supports a wide ranging reconceptualization of community, place, and individual. Nonetheless, in the ways they create and use digital profiles, the systems do offer suggestions for a partial remedy to the problems that they have created.

Crampton, J. W. (2003). Cartographic rationality and the politics of geosurveillance and security. Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 30(2), 135-148.

This paper examines the prevalence of geosurveillance and cartographic rationality today by situating it in the age-old practice of governmental surveillance. I approach this question in a broadly Foucauldian historical framework. Foucault outlined a historical transition between a strictly disciplinary society that surveys and disciplines individuals and a "governmental" or biopolitical society that works at the level of a population and its distribution across territory. I argue that this governmental surveillance includes mapping and GIS, which, although they have taken different forms over time, have long been governmental technologies of control. I further argue that surveillance and security operate by establishing norms and statistical averages that allow assessments to be made about risk and threat. In order to illustrate the deployment of these cartographies of surveillance, and to examine their particular effects, I use a case study of crime mapping. I conclude that any assessment of mapping and GIS for surveillance and security uses must consider the genesis of cartographic rationality.

Dobson, J. E., & Fisher, P. F. (2003). Geoslavery. Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE, 22(1), 47-52.

Human tracking devices, however, introduce a new potential for real-time control that extends far beyond privacy and surveillance, per se. As a result, society must contemplate a new form of slavery characterized by location control...Geoslavery is defined here as a practice in which one entity, the master, coercively or surreptitiously monitors and exerts control over the physical location of another individual, the slave. Inherent in this concept is the potential for a master to routinely control time, location, speed, and direction for each and every movement of the slave or, indeed, of many slaves simultaneously. Enhanced surveillance and control may be attained through complementary monitoring of functional indicators such as body temperature, heart rate, and perspiration...Three current technologies can be combined to enable one person to monitor and control the actions of one or many other individuals. A miniature GPS receiver implantedin or attached to a person can continuously record that person’s location. A miniature radio transmitter can report that person’s location to anyone else with a radio receiver tuned to the proper frequency. A GIS can accept the continuous stream of incoming geo-coordinates and plot the person’s every movement in real time. The GIS can readily relate these individual movements to streets, roads, and buildings and to the movements of other individuals. Anyone operating the GIS can follow these movements in real time or retrospectively for as long as data are retained.

Monmonier, M. (2004). Spying with maps: Surveillance technologies and the future of privacy. University of Chicago Press.

Herbert, W. A. (2005). No direction home: Will the law keep pace with human tracking technology to protect individual privacy and stop geoslavery. ISJLP, 2, 409.

Increasingly, public and private employers are utilizing human tracking devices to monitor employee movement and conduct. Due to the propensity of American labor law to give greater weight to employer property interests over most employee privacy expectations, there are currently few limitations on the use of human tracking in employment. The scope and nature of current legal principles regarding individual privacy are not sufficient to respond to the rapid development and use of human tracking technology. The academic use of the phrase “geoslavery” to describe the abusive use of such technology underscores its power. This article examines the use of such technology under current federal and state law and suggests potential means for developing greater legal protections against the abusive use of the technology and the intrusion into personal privacy.


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