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Explore why an understanding of politics is an essential element in fully understanding a specific aspect of contemporary leisure

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Introduction

Surveillance and the politics of technological advances.‘Justice’. ‘Equality’.

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‘Freedom’. These three words are largely associated with politics and can be dated back to the 14th centenary ancient Greece with philosophers such as Aristolote, where the concept of politics and social policies began. Political concepts and movements such as liberalism, feminism, socialism, Marxism and nationalism all fall underneath an umbrella term for political ideology. (Leach R, 2002) Political ideology is a construction of ideas that relates to power, economy and discourse which is classified by the political spectrum and create a discourse. These ideologies and discourses shape social norm’s that directly affect economic, social and cultural developments (Adams I, 2001) thus directly affecting each individual in different ways; one example would be ones leisure lifestyle. Leisure in Britain is principally a creation of modernisation and growth of capital political systems. The Late 19th Centaury and the onset of the industrial revolution saw the occurrence of leisure in society, and in a modern economy is at most is the largest financial budgets of local authorities, and similarly 1997 saw the onset of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). (Roberts K, 2006) The definitions of leisure can evoke many different meanings which creates a paradigm of theories, however as Parker, 1981 suggested the nature of contemporary leisure is associated with freedom, free choice, free time, flexibility and self determination; these qualities thus make it independent from ‘work’ ethics (Rojek C, 2006) however do these qualities make leisure independent from politics, or is an understanding of politics crucial for engaging in leisure pursuits and do current discourse and policies affect our participation in leisure?

Surveillance is a broad concept that can induce numerous meanings. Modern technologies mean that local communities and interpersonal interactions have led to a more diverse global community that can interact endlessly without even being on the same continent. (Haggerty, KD & Samatas, M, 2010) Therefore individuals whose leisure time consumes much of the net or tele-communications and lives in the UK could be being surveyed by the US government or my Gaddafi’s security force. The shift of leisure in the UK has turned from folk culture and mass culture to sub cultures and high culture, these shifts highlight modern technologies and the 20th centauries drive to consume. We now consume leisure time due to the inventions of modern technologies, of which modern interactions begin. (FIND REF) An ever growing modern twist in culture is the prevalence of Social networking sites such as Facebook, which since 2009 has over 250 million users that are regularly using the site. (Zuckerberg, M, 2009). The modern angle of Facebook ‘’embodies the big brother spirit of our generation … [people] are okay with everyone knowing our personal affairs via Facebook, yet we highly protest (and rightfully so) the ever-increasing surveillance that has been imposed on our society post-September 11th.’’ (Kuerschner, J, 2006, pg165)

Facebook is a ‘’virtual community that has grown tremendously in popularity … [members begin by] creating a profile, then make connections to existing friends as well as those they meet though the site. A profile is a list of identifying information. It can include your real name, or a pseudonym. It also can include photographs, birthday, hometown, religion, ethnicity, [political views] and personal interest…Members uses the site for a number of purposes. The root motivation is communication and maintaining relationships.’’ (Dwyer C et al 2007 pg1) Profiles therefore uploaded onto Facebook are very personal; however there is a lack of concern about privacy. Facebook’s Privacy Policy shows evident that it fully complies with the TRUSTe’s Privacy Seal and the EU Safe Harbor Framework, making with legally compatible as a company, however, the privacy policy states that all applications and games are governed by third party businesses that have accessed to users information who use this application as well as the users friend list. On top of this Facebook had countless amounts of advertising partners and websites that also advertise through Facebook, therefore if a user responds to an advertising campaign then the data sharing is tracked to analyse how effective the advert has been, thus again third parties can gain access to personal information relatively easily.(Facebook, 2010) Access from third parties illustrates the Big Brother framework that is evident in modern society. TRUSTe’s Privacy Seal and the EU Safe Harbor Framework ensure that Facebook compels to abide by the Data Protection Act 1998. The Data Protection Act 1998 ensures the regulation of information processing rights given to individuals whose data had been obtained, held, used or discussed. (Legislation.Gov 2011) The Data Protection Act contains 8 key principals;

1. Processed fairly and lawfully.

2. Obtained for specified and lawful purposes.

3. Adequate, relevant and not excessive.

4. Accurate and up to date.

5. Not kept any longer than necessary.

6. Processed in accordance with the data subject’s rights.

7. That there are the proper technical and organisational procedures in place to protect the data against unlawful and unauthorised processing and accidental loss or damage

8. Not transferred to any other country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) without adequate protection in place.

(DCMS, 2007)

Facebook have legal obligations to comply with all the above principals, however, as Social networking sites were not around when the Data Protection Act 1998 was created and amended and some issues have been raised over the data protection rights of site users. Under the Data Protection Act the ‘data’ subject’ (that is the Facebook user) can ask the ‘data collected,’ (in this case that is Facebook), to remove or correct any information or data they are holding on that individual, as well as to prevent the data being used by third party applications. (Solicitors Regulation Authority, 2008) However a Marxist approach would suggest the economic foundation of Facebook and the financial success lies within the capital provided by the third party application which buys profile information to analyse consumer behaviour. However, a major row over the data protection rights of users was discovered by Channel 4’s Watchdog.

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The Programme reported an incident where a user wanted to deactivate their account, yet, Facebook still withheld personal information. On contacting Facebook, they said, ‘’ “We give users the notice that the UK Data Protection Act requires in order to inform them about what information is collected. We also give users granular control over what information they share and who they share it with.” However, the sites privacy policy states that to delete all data, would mean having to physically delete everything you have ever uploaded onto the site, as well as anything that other users have uploaded onto the site. However, for a regular user, this would prove to be almost impossible. (King B, 2007) Even in 2011, with the Data Protection scandals ‘’If you deactivate your account… your profile and all information associated with it are immediately made inaccessible to other Facebook users. What this means is that you effectively disappear from the Facebook service. However, we do save your profile information (friends, photos, interests, etc)’’ (Facebook, 2011a) Therefore although your account may seem to be deleted Facebook still encloses personal information and data, consequently understanding contemporary leisure in relation to politics is vital, as Facebook could contain personal data unless the users understand the Data Protection Act as well as their own personal Rights as a user.

The Big Brother effect, mirrors discourses such as the ‘panopticon’ way of understanding of surveillance. Panopticon illustrates the hierarchical power distribution between who controls society and who is being controlled. Modern surveillances and conspiracy theories concerned with social networking all reflect a dystopian view that mirrors protection and privacy rights. (Albrechtslund A, 2008) The modern shifts in technologies and the uprising number of people using social networking sites have meant that constant monitoring as a panoptic effect has become a part of every day life and the idea of the Orwellian society present in liberal societies. The idea of the Orwellian society through a panoptic lens shows how society is beginning to change from a disciplined society to one of control, organization and containment. The Panopticon surrounding social networking sites and privacy is concerned with the employment of information gathering of individuals in relation to power and control. The ‘objective’ of the panopticon is to limit ‘unsociable’ behaviour, and as a result monitors, ranks and categorizes behaviours. A panopticon society in these terms is closely related to distribution of power linked in to creating a more orderly society. However, the enhancements made upon consumer profiling generated by third party advertising surrounding Facebook generates a power distribution that effectively controls consumer markets that is distributed through orders of power, thus the surveillance in relation to the internet is a innermost element of a capitalist society. (Campbell J & Carlson M, 2002) Modern shifts in surveillance, especially, post September 11th, posted a contemporary shift from Panopticon to ‘Ban-Opticon’, Bigo suggested that a ‘Ban-opticon’ society refers to a constant state of emergency and originates from the International relations and suggestions of a ‘global in-security’ that leads to increased global surveillance to avoid future mass terror and destruction. (Bigo D 2006) Although hierarchies of power create a structured and postmodern view upon surveillance, social networking does induce forms of lateral peer-to-peer systems of surveillance. In terms of lateral peer-to-peer surveillance that forms through social networking privacy concerns are almost magnifies due to awareness the constant surveillance of significant others and colleagues. (Andrejevic M 2005) The awareness of being constantly surveyed will therefore bring around a false profile in term of how people present themselves and self-surveillance will come into effect. Self surveillance and not being able to present yourself as your own right thus again reiterates the Orwellian society.

Power is a primary process in all societies; powered domination forms unified asymmetric power relationship between the dominant powered group or individuals and dominated groups or individuals. Facebook is a colossal field upon which power, counter-power and power struggles is exhibited. Facebook accumulates millions of personal data which manufactures economic capital and power. Facebook users however can not directly influence managerial decisions or policies, thus creating asymmetric power relationship. (Fuchs C, 2011) In terms of power relations users within the UK contain a sense of power through their own knowledge of The Human Rights Act 1998. The Human rights Act of 1998, give everyone the right to their personal privacy and family life along with his correspondences. The Act says there shall be no surveillance or interferences of personal privacy except for circumstances where the law may be being exempted, public safety is being breeched or for the privacy protection and freedom of others. (BBC, 2000) An example through users exercising their Human Rights of Privacy shows methods where the users have tried to counter-power decisions by suing a method called cyber-protest. Changes to Facebook issued in 2009 began huge protest amongst Facebook users, who referred to the changes in privacy as a ‘’Stalker track down feature’’ (Facebook, 2011b) In 2009 Facebook officials made a controversial decision to retain all information about a user, even if there account was deactivated, however Facebook and privacy protesters counter-powered this decision into making Zuckerberg (the creator of Facebook) to withdraw the changes of the legal policy and privacy settings as a consequence Facebook deleted all online remaining evidence of deactivated accounts. However, if you do require all data to be deleted, this has to be achieved individually, on a separate basis, to confirm the request, however many users do not know about this as they do not read the sites privacy policy. Cyber protest’s over tele-communication infrastructure such as Facebook creates a social movement that generates media attention. Facebook in particular creates a level playing field of freedom of speech that ‘’globalized and decentralizes’’ (pg276) issues that fabricate, replicate and distributes knowledge and resistance to produce a mass socio-political movements. (Fuchs C, 2006) Therefore being a cog into the way political ideologies and polices are created and amended.

Surveillance and privacy in terms of Social Networking sites like Facebook creates a paradigm of power relations ranging from cyber protest to containment of data. The value surrounding privacy rights of personal information is difficult as in the eyes of the law it is difficult to establish data as property, as a consequence it’s hard to define unlawful processing of personal information. Sites like Facebook have gained economic and capital power due to containment of the ‘ownership’ of users personal information. (Bennet C & Raas C 2007) Concepts of peer-to-peer and participatory surveillance that creates self-surveillance again form an in-depth value or what Privacy and Surveillance relates, The Orwellian suggests that the idea of self-surveillance through propaganda creating a dystopian society controlled through a modern surveillance government. Around 20% of employers use Facebook as a tool or ensure employees are of the correct social category, they are politically correct and give the company a positive image. (Havenstein, H 2008).

References

Albrechtslund, A. (2008). Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance. Peer-Reviewed Journal on the Internet . 13 (3), http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2142

Andrejevic M, 2005. “The work of watching one another: Lateral surveillance, risk, and governance,” Surveillance & Society, volume 2, number 4, pp. 479–497, and at http://www.surveillance-and-society.org/articles2(4)/lateral.pdf, accessed 10/04/2011

Adams, I. (2001) Political Ideology Today, University Press: Manchester

BBC (2000) ‘Human Rights Act 1998: What the Articles Say’ BBC News [online] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/946400.stn#top

Bennett, C & Raas, C (2007) The Privacy Paradigm ‘The Surveillance Studies Reader 22 pgs338-353

Bigo, D. (2006). Security, Exception, Ban and Surveillance . In: Lyon, D Theorizing Surveillance; The Panopticon and Beyond . Devon: Willan

Campbell J & Carlson M. (2002). Panopticon.com: Online Surveillance and the Commodifaction of Privacy. Journal of broadcasting & Electronic Media. 46 (4), 586-606.

DCMS (2007) Data Protection Act 1998 – what it means to you DCMS [Online] http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/freedom_of_information/106698_dataprotection.pdf pg1 [accessed 2/05/2011]

Dwyer C, Hiltz S & Passerini K. (2007). Trust and Privacy Concern within Social Networking Sites: A Comparison of Facebook and MySpace. Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS) 2007 Proceedings. 1-12pg.

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Fuchs, C. (2006). The self-organization of cyberprotest. In ‘The internet & society’ 2006. Ashurst: WIT Press.

Fuchs, C (2011). Foundations of Critical Media and Information Studies. Oxon: Routledge.

Haggerty KD & Samatas M. (2010). Introduction: Surveillance and Democracy: An unsettled Relationship. In: Haggerty KD & Samatas M Surveillance and Democracy. Oxon: Routledge. 1-17

Havenstein, H (2008). One in Five Employers Use Social Networks In Hiring Process’ Computer World [online] http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9114560. [accessed 3/05/2011]

King, B (2007) Facebook data protection row, The social networking site faces an investigation from UK privacy watchdog after a complaint from a Channel 4 News viewer. Channel 4 News [online] http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/science_technology/facebook%20data%20protection%20row/1060467.html [accesed 29/04/2011]

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