The documentary An Eye on You: Citizens Under Surveillance attempts to describe the extensive network of surveillance and data collection which occurs in the modern technological world. One of the film’s underlying premises is that it happens without consent which can actively compromise individual privacy. While targeted commercials may be harmless, corporations, government agencies, and illegal agents can gain access to the data and use it for manipulation, both direct and subconscious. Some people like concerned citizens of New Orleans accept giving up aspects of privacy for ensured security. Meanwhile, others are concerned with the increasing power that the technology companies and agencies such as the NSA are gaining with this data, compromising fundamental aspects of privacy and democracy (Gershon, 2018). The primary academic discipline which the documentary can be related to is computer science with sub-disciplines of cybersecurity and big data. The focus of the film is primarily on the processes of data collection and the role that technology plays a role in it. The primary sectors where cybersecurity and data collection are prevalent serve as the foundation for the movie’s argument.
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The academic discipline of computer science particularly focused on cybersecurity and big data processing are incredibly technical and complex. Every pattern of online behavior or recorded conversation is stored as digital data converted into most basic elements. Computational algorithms are used to analyze empirical data to formulate usable models which can predict trends and behavior of individuals and populations a whole. It is done through recognition of patterns and key words. This methodology uses statistical approaches to determine appropriate outcomes in for data collection and security management. Quantitative evaluation helps to develop practical models accurately.
The film presents a number of perspectives on surveillance and digital data which can be interpreted from a wide variety of sub-disciplines. The film discusses the use of data for the purposes of tracking behavior and trends. These statistics have become a critical aspect of business development in the modern world. Therefore, the disciplines of economics and business administration can be considered with specific sub-disciplines such as marketing. The patterns of human online behavior and the adoption of technology provides an opportunity for investigation using academic disciplines of psychology (individual) and sociology (population as a whole). The political nature of the topic and the use of technology for mass surveillance by governments allows to analyze the theme from the discipline of political science. The sub-disciplines of national security and intelligence are the primary focus. Furthermore, surveillance is increasingly being used in criminology and criminal justice.
The documentary provides themes and topics which lend themselves to interdisciplinary study because many of the aspects regarding digital data and surveillance are interconnected. The film suggests that big data is inherently collected, analyzed, and monitored by both private corporations and government agencies, at times working collaboratively. The pattern of events which begins with established behavior trends regarding technology and leads to data collection that contributes to business or political objectives provides opportunities for a comprehensive interdisciplinary approach. An interdisciplinary study can be applied to actual events such as governments investigating corporate data gathering practices and public perceptions of privacy or security.
While the documentary is informative, it is evident that its creators do maintain certain biases regarding the issue. The film, similar to many documentaries about surveillance and cybersecurity, approach the topic from an alarmist perspective. Therefore, it is argued that practically all online behavior can be targeted. The film assumes that the viewer would know what to do with the given information. In a modern world, it is practically impossible to exist without technological interconnectivity for both social and professional purposes. Someone more knowledgeable on the issue can use the information to consider actions such advocating for legal restrictions of data collection. However, the film maintains a particular bias that networking and the use of products such as search engines and social media are inherently detrimental to privacy.
Gershon, S. (2018). An eye on you: Citizens under surveillance [Video file]. Web.