Influence and participation

Surveillance and identification technologies deeply influence today’s society. Large quantities of data are gathered and stored for many different purposes varying from marketing studies to detection of possible criminal behaviour. The nation states now control much more than they did before. In the last century, the state could not control the ability of a citizen to go places to the degree to which they can now (interview MacFaydyen 2009).

There are European laws, like the European Data Directive, that define what companies and governments are allowed to store, which kind of information, for how long, and at which point citizens have to be informed. However, these regulations are not very effective (interview Warnier 2009, Quilinan 2009, van Splunter 2009). Interesting in the structure of the witness in judicial European courts is that a witness does not have to incriminate herself, by, for example, remaining silent. In law, presence of a human being (in essence the strive for well-being and survival) is given more agency than the judicial system itself. Consequently, when transposing this concept to systems participation, systems need to be designed to provide human beings the ability to steer towards their own well-being and survival: they do not have to cooperate with processes that may incriminate them. From this perspective, unknown surveillance and monitoring, which may lead to incrimination, is contra-productive and detrimental for human beings. One has to realize that the law took several centuries of evolution and systems participation in human societies is very young and needs to evolve (interview van der Vies 2008).