[Reader-list] :::::::::::Surveillance:::::::::::::::::::::::::

pratap pandey pnanpin at yahoo.co.in
Sun Jun 23 04:05:15 IST 2002

 Dear Bea, and all
It seems, bea, that we are actually getting on to something we started a year back. Namely:surveillance
At some point of time, we must look into the "informal" modes of surveillance by which a resident in a colony is "brought into line" with the "values" that apparently "inform" the ways by which that colony lives, and to which this "aberrant" resident must "conform".
Looking at the history (utterly unwritten, merely experienced) of the way in which a colony that is electronically completely uninformed but which would like to be at the forefront of informed technology re-produces itself, it is amazing to find how the circuits of "gossip" perform their own version of "hypercontrol". "Gossip" does reduce individuals to "data-bodies" (in an a-electronic society not only struggling with post-modernism but also with modernism). It transforms individuals into data-bodies with an urge to stereotype. Therefore, one must look at the stereotypes that circulate through a colony, as an attempt to make it "one" (everybody must be the same -- salaried or landowning, respectful and populating, earning and tax-saving, investing and house-owning, owning cars, music systems or ghetto-blasters, washing machines or ghetto-dhobis, ACs or ghetto-climate changers, Fridges or ghetto-larders and the like, such as branded shirts and dresses).
What scares me about the report I talked about is that, for the first time, it is being made official that the State is getting into the same business. Gossiping is a way of tracking down individual idiosnycrasies, personal paranoias. It is a way of informally informing everybody about everyone. It is a "small" politics of identity.
Now the State wants to get into this circuit, thereby transforming a small politics of identity (a flexible politics, depending on who has watched and how s/he has talked about it, and what has been watched, how interpersonal boredoms have been elevated to the status of a narrative, how "goings-on" have been given a "story" and a "history", what local power of belief the narrator possesses) into a National Concern.
I use the Capital letters deliberately. The State, via "military grade" technology, is doing the same kind of thing that gossips thrive on. The State wishes to get into the business of policing opinion. You know that the current government is a fascist government. They will not leave anything to chance. For the fascist state, apart from gleaning info about so-called "terrorists", it is important to find out the current state of opinion, and range of activities, on the Net.
In terms of the report, the State has given itself the power to not only "check out" who's saying what, but also to bring the service-provider to book for allowing what is it that can be said. The State can now create a complete inventory of "those who belong and what they are saying" and "those who don't belong and what they are saying". For the present government, this is really important (for this is a government that is totally, at one level, into the business of ideology). Using its power, this State can actually presume to intervene into civil society, witha desire to corrupt it.
Let us be clear about this: the current government has come into power via a corruption of civil society. The more it can corrupt civil society, the more successful it will be. The more it can close down civil society (understood here as a sphere of human existence and action that exists outside the State), the better it will succeed.
Thus, outside of the logic that you have (as usually) so brilliantly described, bea, I feel that we really need to look into the historical development of the Indian State viv-a-vis the immanent "desire to watch" that this State seems to possess.
The current government is one moment of the post-independent State in India. Are they carrying certain inherent powers (historically constitutionally provided) to an extreme?
This Government believes in Gossip. It wishes to track down the field of Gossip that the Web makes possible. It wishes to possess an entire knowledge of who's saying what on the Net. This, it is doing, in the interest of National Security. For this, it wants "military grade" equipment.
Tell me, Bea, and All, what is this equipment? What will it enable? Is it interpretative? Does it have in-built rules of decorum (anybodu who abuses is a terrorist?)? How can the State organise Text?
I repeat: How can the State organise Text? How can the State possess knowledge of Text? Text belongs to civil society. How dare the State even presume to take over this domain?     
  bea: : Thu Jun 20 11: 24: 20 at yahoo.com, UNEXPECTED_DATA_AFTER_ADDRESS_IN_GROUP at .SYNTAX-ERROR.;;;;, ":bea::" <bea at nungu.com> wrote: pratap,

nungu also worried:: but attempting to take some action::: nungu finds the
scariest thing the idea of the subject becoming bearers of his/her own
surveillance. proposal below has been funded by Rhizome.org and is
currently being implemented. what can we do???????

[rhizomatic // decentralised // hyperpanoptic [Bogard] // pantopic [Novak]
forms of 'hypercontrol' in infomatic societies

The proposed project is partly an extension of an on going project about
security, surveillance, transparency and capitalism in postmodern societies,
implemented by nungu.com and sarai.net in delhi in december of last year
[see sample works [mrs jeevam jham]] and partly a project in its own right.
The project proposes an exploration of forms 'hypercontrol' present in
societies infused with communication and information technology networks.
Contemporary surveillance systems or forms of hypercontrol, unlike the
centrally controlled and co-ordinated systems of earlier surveillance
mechanisms, are constituted by loose, malleable and flowing sets of
processes. The project proposes an examination of these processes through an
investigation of the logic and aesthetics of telematic surveillance.

Telematic surveillance, as information warfare, centres on the notion of
deterrence and detection. Contemporary warfare is a battle of images and
sounds, winning, a matter of maintaining sight of one¹s opponent. Similarly
surveillance, in the realm of electronic environments, is to do with
perpetual control over a distance, a Œknowing in advance¹. Telematic
surveillance like Virilio¹s military inspired vision machine, is the
Œautomation of perception¹. The race to see first, to anticipate, to know in
advance, is evident from the increasing preoccupation with pre-emptive
devices that depend on simulation rather than on records of what has
happened or is happening. The power of this type of surveillance, however,
is located in the searchable database, in the coupling of the synthetic
image with the data bank, the inherent logic of which is also anticipatory,
pre-emptive and preventative. Databases, automated classification by code,
not only give rise to social sorting, risk profiling and social
categorising, they Œoperate by abstracting human bodies from their
territorial settings and separating them into a series of discrete flows.¹
Surveillance is no longer contained. It is everywhere. Hence, surveillance

The capacity of the 'Web' to capture and control, to target and to trap, to
manage and to manipulate is exemplified in database marketing, which works
by division of consumers by social type and location. Online market
databases track and record the consumer¹s patterns of purchase; and in so
much as to predict is to control, also represent pre-emptive and controlling
technologies. The increasingly automated mechanisms for social categorising
represent a key means of reproducing and reinforcing social, economic, and
cultural divisions in informational societies. Knowing in advance who is
likely to buy local or imported goods, vote BJP or congress, is seen as the
means of maintaining order, normalising populations, maximising efficiency.
Consumer Surveillance thus leads to consumerism as form of maintenance of
social order. In this Œhyperpanopticon¹ subjects are disciplined to
participate [filling in forms // acquiring credit cards and so on], in such
an acute way that their surveilled data comes to actually constitute them.
In the same sense as the synthetic image, the real-time image, the
representation of the real, becomes more real than that which it reproduces
[Baudrillard¹s hyperreal], the data body becomes more real than its fleshy
referent. We thus become bearers of our own surveillance, seduced into
consensual conformity by the pleasures of consumption. Bentham's panopticon
with its moral language of criminal justice is replaced by a language of
profit and loss.

Data-subjects interact with surveillance systems. The question this project
aspires to ask is how far subjects collude with, negotiate, or resist
practices that capture and process personal data? The project proposes to
set up a number of CCTV cameras in the city of Delhi, linking them back to a
URL. The interface will allow users to view the images in real time.
Alongside the real time images, there will be a quick time movie or animated
gif detailing bodily movements // facial expressions which could be seen as
an indication of a potential crime commiter. The page will also be equipped
with a searchable database to which the user may add information that they
have acquired, maybe information of a local suspect or someone they have
seen lurking in their colony, [Delhi is a city much delineated along
security lines. Homes of the middle and upper classes are situated in
colonies, guarded and gated from the outside world] or perhaps someone¹s
information they have obtained online. The database will be filled by the
artists with most wanted terrorist lists alongside information from personal
homepages [courtesy of mrs jeevam jham &shy; see sample works] and will contain
categories the user must file his/her information under. These categories
will mimic the somewhat banal and arbitrary classification employed by
marketing companies but in a local context - skin colour: wheatish, caste:
Punjabi. The interface will have a Œpanic button¹ for the consumer to press
in the instance of recliner crime spotting. The panic button will link to
the actual Delhi Police Website help centre, complete with its neighbourhood
watch, servant verification scheme, and Œarms renewal form¹ links. The
Œservice¹ of access to this page will be made available to consumers in the
guise of a security company: ŒGau Security Services, Delhi¹ [again see mrs
jeevam jham]. [Gau, sankrit for cows. The word for warfare in sanskrit
means, literally translated, a desire for more cows!]. The price of this
telematic surveillance service will include registration and login alongside
allowing Gau Security Services to advertise on the users homepages, much as
they do on mrs. jeevam jhams. In this way the users themselves are seduced
once more into surrendering their personal data and the proliferation of the
Œservice¹ is ensured.

The project hopes to show how in respect of the city, how webs of simulated
surveillance system become woven into the fabric of 'real' urban life, just
as the 'real' landscapes of cities themselves become transformed into a
realm of surveillant simulation. It hopes to examine reactions in a local
context to forms of hypercontrol, at the same time instilling a much needed
awareness of how such Œgovernmental technologies¹ function in a local,
social and political context. By virtue of being located in a developing
country, the project results will be fairly unpredictable as there is a much
less defined concept of personal space. The wired indian, for the most
part, views telematic surveillance, if at all, through an inherently
uncritical lens. 

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