Prevention and Detection: Surveillance Safeguarding Society From Acts Of Criminality

A requirement of a previous university assessment was to read through articles produced by my peers studying digital media and surveillance. A common theme prevalent within all of the blog’s that I elected to read, was the bleak viewpoint each piece took on the use of digital surveillance in modern society (I too was guilty of proposing such a stance).

As I sat down to begin writing this final post, it was with the intention to once again peddle the same narrative, “surveillance is bad, it violates our rights and the government just wants control”. But instead I found myself recoiling. Hang on! There has to be some substantial benefits of surveillance that we are neglecting to mention or only eluding to in an offhand manner when discussing surveillance. Therefore, within this current post I’ve attempted to explore some of the advantages surveillance offers citizens, with a particular focus on how it is being used to prevent and detect criminal acts on home soil.

Invasion of privacy has fast become buzz words echoed throughout our collective psyche. Used to wag fingers at digital tracking and collection of individual’s data by corporations, including government and defence industries. Now despite the sigh you may exhale when I say, “evidence shows surveillance measures can be used effectively in crime stopping” (not that old chestnut again), it remains unarguably a valid claim.

‘The state undermines privacy in the name of security.’ (Karatzogianni & Gak 2015, p. 132).

Image: The Control Room by Jonathan

Analyses conducted by researcher Robert Rhodes (2007) examined the evidence in favour of “electronic eavesdropping” being employed by US law enforcement, to apprehend culprits of organised crime. Techniques such as wiretapping and digital data collection were seen to be used effectively by the governing agencies, to assemble intelligence on threatening activity and to halt illegal drug trafficking and gambling conspirators (Rhodes 2007, p. 424). Whilst Rhodes (2007, p. 423) acknowledged the cost to innocent people’s privacy when considering mass community surveillance, none the less the price was justifiable when considering the effect of disrupting these criminal acts had on public safety.

Image: Surveillance by Jonathan McIntosh

Additionally, another form of community surveillance, CCTV cameras, within public spaces has been examined by academics to test its effectiveness at managing crime rates within communities. Use of CCTV cameras, particularly in parking lots, was correlated with deterring acts of theft and vandalism (Welsh & Farrington 2009, p. 743). Moreover, a literature review undertaken by the Australian Government revealed the successful application of CCTV surveillance in detecting violent crimes and assisting significantly in reprimanding guilty perpetrators of crime in public (Australian Institute of Criminology 2010, para. 9). An example of such an application is outlined in this podcast which examines the infamous case of Jill Meagher, who’s murder was caught on CCTV camera moments before the incident took place and the footage which helped identify and convict them of their atrocious act (Sutton 2017, para. 12).

Although we recognise there are many questionable applications of surveillance technology that potentially pry into the privacy of innocent civilian’s live’s. The question we should be asking ourselves is not, whether we are okay with being open to invasion by government and defence organisations? Instead we should be asking ourselves, if we are open to being surveyed as a price for protection against any fellow society members that may wish others harm? The concept is a tough one to grapple with and by no means black and white. Good luck to each of us as we come to our conclusions about what privacy costs we are willing to accept in order to ensure community security?


Reference List

Australian Institute of Criminology 2010, Effectiveness of public space CCTV systems, Australian Government, retrieved 7 September 2017, <>.

Karatzogianni, A & Gak, M 2015, ’Hack or be hacked: The quasi-totalitarianism of global trusted networks’, New Formations, vol. 84, pp. 130-148, doi: 10.398/NEWP:84/85.06.2015

Riots in Hackney by Surian Soosay (CC BY 2.0)

Rhodes, R 2007, ‘Electronic surveillance, organised crime and civil liberties’, Policy Studies Journal, vol. 7, pp. 419-425, doi: 10.1111/1541-0072.ep11833334

Surveillance by Jonathan McIntosh (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sutton, C 2017, ‘Shadowed by a killer: Jill Meagher’s final walk’,, 4 May, retrieved 8 September 2017 <>.

The Control Room by Jonathan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Welsh, B & Farrington, D 2009, ‘Public area CCTV and crime prevention: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis’, Justice Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 716-745, doi: 10.1080/07418820802506206


The Passive Acceptance of Privacy Invasion Over the Passage Of Time

 ‘You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every moment scrutinized.’ (Orwell 2008, p. 3).

It is without question that the idea of having your every movement documented and available to an unknown authority is chilling. Yet despite this reality, modern humanity readily subscribes to this form of surveillance. Through use of mobile devices with geolocation technology an obscene amount of data regarding an individual’s activity can be captured.

Geolocation is a devices capability to use satellite technology to track an objects (and subsequently a person’s) whereabouts (Mura 2013, p. 79). Whilst the conceptualization behind location tracking is well-meaning and idealistic. On an individual level consumers receive immense benefits from GPS navigation when using applications such as maps, weather reports or transport services. And on a societal level the prospect of using such devices to assist in emergency response, health care and security, work to reinforce the adoption of rampant geolocation apparatuses (Furini & Tamanini 2015, p. 9796). Regardless of these apparent benefits, the possibility of foreign third parties being privy to your activities can lead down a rabbit hole of alarming worst case scenarios. Anyone read 1984?

Tweets embedded from @AlcyMeehan profile. 

One of the most common arguments put forward in order to convince users that unrestrained location tracking is worthwhile, is the claim that consumer industries can use this information to target marketing and advertising to specific audiences (Mura 2013, p. 80). In theory the idea of having individually tailored ads based on your surrounding area sounds convincing.  Nonetheless, a recent survey conducted by Mura (2013) revealed that public opinion refuted the notion of targeted advertising on the basis that the information may be misused and more importantly that restricted advertisement might mean they’d miss out on a good deal which may otherwise not present itself in a tailored marketing campaign.

With 2.32 billion smart phone users across the globe in 2017 and growing steadily more numerous (Statista 2017). The concern surrounding privacy breaches and regulation of mobile devices is not disparate. Yet, despite the vast amounts of literature outlining the privacy issues faced by consumers. The cost of unchecked surveillance does not appear to outweigh the benefits of mobile device features that require 24/7 tracking. Ultimately it is apparent that convenience is one of modern civilizations greatest values.

Buzz in Google Maps by Johan Larsson (CC BY 2.0)

However, there are two key considerations that should be highlighted when discussing human’s consent to location tracking. A study undertaken by Furini and Tamanini (2015) identified that users must feel they have authorization over subscribing to geolocation applications, as opposed to being blind sighted with surveillance.

Tweets embedded from @AlcyMeehan profile. 

Furthermore, after interviewing members of the public, it was noted that consumers require obvious benefits when enabling the collection of location data. Individuals were open to applications tracking their movements as long as they gained from it (Furini & Tamanini 2015, p. 9823). Whilst it appears that many are content to continue allowing geolocation abilities to monitor their daily movements, it is not without conditions that we accept it. Perhaps once we become more active in assessing how our freedom is open to invasion, stricter regulations can be put into place ensuring individuals right to privacy.


Reference List

Buzz in Google Maps by Johan Larsson (CC BY 2.0)

Data Security Breach by Blogtrepreneur (CC BY 2.0)

Furini, M & Tamanini, V 2015, ‘Location privacy and public metadata in social media platforms: attitudes, behaviors and opinions’, Multimedia Tools and Applications, vol. 74, no. 21, pp. 9795-826, doi:10.1007/s11042-014-2151-7

‘Glenn Greenwald: Why privacy matters’ 2014, YouTube, TED, 10 October, 1 August 2017, <>.

Mura, R 2013, ‘Geolocation and targeted advertising: Making the case for heightened protections to address growing privacy concerns’, Buffalo Intellectual Property Law Journal, vol. 9, pp. 77-88, retrieved on 9 August 2017, <;.

Orwell, G 2008, 1984, Penguin Books, London, UK.

Statista 2017, Number of smartphone users worldwide from 2014 to 2020 (in billions), Statista, retrieved on 8 August 2017, <>.

Video Making: Treading The Well Worn Track.

For the focus of my most recent video, I opted to analyse a civil liberty that is becoming increasingly crucial in a progressively volatile world, online activism. The video conducts an examination into some of the challenges and possibilities that a virtual platform presents to those driving social change.

My journey began amid the vast shelves of Deakin University’s online library. A simple search turned over hundreds of resources on various aspects of digital activism, briefly skimming through the titles, I chose my favorites. The remainder of my day was then spent lounging outside in the afternoon sun, highlighting, note-taking and sipping on icy cold beverages (water only).

For the next stage I took to social media, tweeting out to peers, eager to hear any examples of online activism they’d come across in their studies. Receiving a tentative response, I continued on with my research, finding various materials, TedTalks, discussion panels and even some past student videos covering the topic. After days of collating information on the pros and cons of online activism, it was now time for me to condense my findings into four concise points;

  • Accessible Audiences
  • The Corporate Internet
  • Like-minded Collaboration
  • Superficial Engagement

Happily, filming went off without a hitch. Taking only half a day to complete, I was relieved to be so far ahead of schedule. This was shaping up to be the most straight forward assessment yet! (Famous last words anyone?)

That night as I was falling asleep I began to feel unsatisfied. At that point I only had me talking at the camera and I knew, no matter how charismatic my mother told me I was, I needed something more. An interview with an activist! That, my friends, is a bingo.

Naomi Hogan, throughout her lifetime, has advocated for various organisations seeking to bring change to environmental, social and human rights issues. Currently residing in the Northern Territory, Ms Hogan works as a coordinator for the Lock the Gate Alliance. I was fortunate to chat with Naomi, who shared first hand the benefits and downfalls online media has presented in her line of work. The anecdotal evidence she provided, further enriched the content of the video and my own grasp upon the subject. But in every great story the hero must also face their fair share of adversity. Thus far, my journey to completion of assessment two had been virtually unhindered. That was until we reached the editing stage.

Now for some reason, despite having efficiently made various videos using a skillful combination of iMovie and Windows Movie Maker, for some reason, I thought it would be a great idea to try my hand at editing with Adobe Premiere Pro with only three days to spare. Never before have I encountered a program more user un-friendly than Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Right about now you may be shaking your head or laughing at my foolhardiness (don’t worry, I laughed too…after I finished crying).

‘Midnight Crisis’ by Alcy Meehan

On the eve of the submission day I conceded my time was being wasted on Premiere Pro. I packed my bags, exported all the work I had done and headed back over to the familiar interface of Movie Maker. In a moment of sleep deprived ingenuity, I realised I could easily animate an opening title on the ever-reliable PowerPoint. It took 5 minutes of minimal effort to create a video that put my hours of Premiere Pro attempts to more shame…as if it were possible.

The road to completion was one fraught with challenges. Whilst I may now be able to boast a more informed understanding of the nuances of online activism, I cannot however do the same for Premiere Pro. I suppose then the moral of this piece is, sometimes it’s ill-advised to choose the path less traveled and if in doubt, trust Microsoft PowerPoint and Windows Movie Maker.

Unless anyone else has some suggestions on an editing program?



ABC News 2017, Netherlands government launches global abortion fun to counter Trump cuts, ABC, 19 Jan 2017, <>.

Carty, V 2015, Social movements and new technology, Westview Press, retrieved 19 Jan 2017, Deakin University Library’s Catalog.

Dordevic, J & Zezelj, I 2016, ‘Civic activism online: Making young people dormant or more active in real life?’ Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 70, pp. 113-118, retrieved 19 Jan 2017, doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.12.070

Erkman, M 2014, ‘The dark side of online activism: Swedish right-wing extremist video activism on YouTube’, MedieKultur: Journal of Media & Communication Research, vol. 70, no. 56, pp. 79-99, retrieved on 19 Jan 2017, Communication & Mass Media Complete.

‘Film’ by Douglas Arruda avaliable here under a Creative Commons Attribution.

How social media creates a better world: Jan Rezab at TEDxSSE 2014, YouTube, TedX Talks, 5 May, retrieved on 2 Feb 2017, <>.

Kimmorley, S 2015, ‘In good company: How Thankyou water got the attention of Australia’s biggest retailers’, Business Insider Australia, 5 May, retrieved 19 Jan 2017, <>.

Techopedia, 2017, Cyberactivism, Techopedia inc., retrieved on 3 Feb 2017, <>.

Terzis, G 2015, ‘Death trends’, Kill your darlings, vol. 22, pp. 9-24, retrieved 19 Jan 2017,

The Stream – Is social media killing online activism? 2016, YouTube, Al Jazeera English, 11 Jan, retrieved 20 Jan 2017, <>.

Morning Sun
by Nicolai Heidlas Music (CC BY 3.0)

Back in Summer – Upbeat Ukulele Background Music
by Nicolai Heidlas Music (CC BY 3.0)


Swingin’ Jazz – Happy Background Music – Ukulele and Guitar – Jazz / Blues
by Nicolai Heidlas Music (CC BY 3.0)

Into The Clouds – Background Music
by Nicolai Heidlas Music (CC BY 3.0)

Smile Ding
by Alex Potter Sound Design (CC BY 3.0)

Wrong Buzzer Sound Effect
by Jonas Abelsen (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

Large Group Applause
by RinaldiSound (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Broader Online Activity 

Please see Tiffit Tally.

Why we should stop saying “be yourself” and start saying, “be whichever one of yourselves best suits this situation.” – An analysis.

It’s often said that simply “being yourself” will steer you toward success. I’d get offered that job I want so badly, if only I nailed being myself in the interview. If I remembered to just be myself on the date I’ve got coming up, it could easily develop into something more long term. All those kids in school would totally have wanted to become my best friend if only, you guessed it, I was being myself.

Yet what this ceaselessly advised concept fails to take into consideration is the contextual nature of self-hood. Each of the above scenarios calls upon a different aspect of who I am, a professional, a partner and a friend. I will be the first to acknowledge that in each of these environments my self-presentation is completely transformed. And this, I hope, is something we have all experienced, it’s called social skills. So why do we have more difficulty in an online world, accepting the occurrence of multiple selves as still authentic?

Mazur and Li (2016) argue that we utilise social media to enact public performances of identity. Marshall’s article furthers upon this idea of online performance, indicating ‘what is constructed via Facebook but equally through Twitter is a construction of character for a kind of ritual of the performance of the self’ (2010 p. 40). However Mazur and Li later clarify that these enactments are not counterfeits, but rather selective ‘experiments with facets of themselves and their identity’ (2016, p. 102). And this selectivity is not limited to online, as quoted by the Bard himself, the world is a stage, and we are simply actors in it. Social media does not cause the façade, though perhaps it gives us the tangible evidence of it occurring and that is unsettling. As Marshall states, ‘…these sites and the exchanges that develop on them are extensions in the production of the self…’, these extensions are still us (2010 p. 42).

Contextualising conduct is a difficult concept to accept in a society whose cognitive processes rely on clear labels and neat categorisation. Shaffer and Kipp indicate that as we mature we become more sophisticated self-theorists and are therefore increasingly more comfortable with the grey area that surrounds the malleability of identity across contexts (2010, p. 509). Below is a screenshot of the two main folders on my phone. I’ve divided my accounts into social and professional platforms and whilst these two aspects of my personality are compartmentalised, they’re still both sides of a greater me.  ­

Screenshot of phone screen.

In April of 2013 Hillary Clinton was quoted in an address to the National Multi-Housing Council saying,

‘You just have to sort of figure out how to… how to balance the public and the private…’ (Wolfgang 2016, para. 6)

This line earnt Clinton a great deal of backlash from news outlets, fueling public perception of the in-authenticity of “crooked Hillary” (Engel 2016; Wolfgang 2016). Yet after analysing my own identity, I’ve come to appreciate Clinton’s words and the need to differentiate between what we keep private and what we allow others to see.

Upon conducting an analysis of my own online identity, I flicked back and forth between my public profiles searching for consistencies. In the end, I surmised into three adjectives the self I present to the public.

Alcy Meehan‘ created on Venngage.


I try to keep up daily contribution on the Twitter feed, by either posting or participating in conversation threads and ensure I give prompt responses when engaged. Though having only published one blog post, there is room for improvement.


The platforms that I’ve made public, despite being open for consumption, are all sites that give me inbuilt control of what gets directly connected to my name and homepages. Therefore, they allow me to appear open, but with a great level of control.


Whilst I do apply a level of formality on pages such as LinkedIn, more often the tone I adopt is a friendly one, and I usually invite direct discussion with others.

We’re constantly reminded of the permanency of the online world, explained well in this TedTalk. It interested me to see what essence of Alcy a Google search would yield. The first result that appeared was my LinkedIn profile, a comfort to know that if any employees where to be doing research, it would lead them there. Next, I found an array of articles from my local newspaper chronicling my attendance at leadership conventions, thus giving credibility to my leadership experience.

Tweets embedded from @AlcyMeehan profile. 

This brief search turned up quite a positive profile and I owe the absence of incriminating photos or content to my early understanding, in adolescence, of the internet’s immortality. Gabriel’s article challenges the negativity we associate with social media identity, especially in relation to youths cognitive and social growth. It is a populist idea that all teens have a limited capacity to reflect upon and pre-evaluate what they share. Gabriel instead argues, social media encourages early evaluation of self-concept and what identity teens want to project (2014 p. 105). This early understanding, I’ve demonstrated first hand, has now allowed me to continue ahead with a relatively respectable and professional online public identity, free of some great disaster…so far.

Despite all this my analysis did bring to attention the extent to which I undersell my career goal conviction. Adopting indecisive terms such as, “I don’t know what I want to do yet”, “I’m ready for multiple careers”, gave me an air of instability, a repellent for future employers. Therefore, I was prompted to change the language I was use when defining my goals to something more definitive, “I will continue to follow my passion for helping others by working in the field of

Screenshot of my page.

Six weeks in and this unit has encouraged me to take a more active awareness in my online presence. Updating my LinkedIn, display pictures and undertaking the follower culls, works toward ensuring I’m putting my best foot forward (it’s the left foot in case you were wondering). And no this isn’t insincere or fake, if I didn’t take a shower for a week or withhold some of the things I’d like to say, I’d never hear the end of it! So please, don’t judge when I add a filter or draft and redraft my tweets online.

(1,033 words, not including citations and captions).


Engel, P 2016, ‘Hillary Clinton defends her ‘public and private’ positions on issues’, Business Insider Australia, 10 October, retrieved 6 December 2016, <>.
Gabriel, F 2014, ‘Sexting, selfies and self-harm: Young people, social media and the performance of self-development’, Media International Australia, vol. 151, pp. 104-12, retrieved 6 December 2016, Sage Journals Online.
‘In the Eyes’ by Chris Combe available here under a Creative Commons Attribution.
‘Juan Enriquez: Your online life, permanent as a tattoo’ 2013, YouTube, TED, 2 May, 5 December 2016, <>.
Marshall, D 2010, ‘The promotion and presentation of the self: Celebrity as marker of presentational media’, Celebrity Studies, vol. 1, pp. 35-48, doi:10.1080/19392390903519057
Mazur, E & Li, Y 2016, ‘Identity and self-presentation on social networking websites: A comparison of online profiles of Chinese and American emerging adults’, Psychology of Popular Media Culture, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 101-18, retrieved 6 December 2016, PsycARTICLES.
Shaffer, D & Kipp, K 2010, Developmental psychology: Childhood and adolescence, 8th edn, Thomson Wadsworth, Belmont,­ CA.
Wolfgang, B 2016, ‘Clinton says she has ‘both a public and a private position’ on Wall Street: WikiLeaks release’, 8 October, retrieved 5 December 2016, <>.

My broader online activity

See Tiffit Tally, please!

Posthumous posting, it’s not only a question of personal ethics and morality.

In June of this year my father underwent an emergency heart surgery, don’t worry he’s fine now. However, in the few days leading up to the operation I had my first taste of mortality. Ironically what unsettled me most during this period of unavoidable “what if” discussions, was when my mother said,

“If something bad does happen we’ll have to get your dad to write down all his social media passwords so we can hold onto them after he’s gone.”

I’m sorry, what?

The idea of commandeering a deceased persons Facebook account was, a thought, I found so incomprehensibly morbid.

Reflecting on it now I see that between us we embodied the polarising sides Coldwell identifies in his article, ‘It divides people on a gut level’ (Coldwell 2013, para. 3). Yes, it had.

Yet the issue of posthumous posting, is not only a question of personal ethics and morality but also of legality. Within its publication the Kentucky Law Journal (2014) highlights the rising discrepancies between legislative law and social media provider’s contracts. When activating a new account we’re required to sign a User Agreement, a document that is often ignored, guilty. Yet within its contents there are terms and conditions that would be violated upon turning a deceased individuals account over to another, or even simply insisting it be left in peace. Because of these conflicts, court orders are repeatedly petitioned between site providers and grieving families (Gaied 2016, p. 281).

Each platform outlines its own policies with respect to post-life online activity. Some media platforms, like Facebook, allow users options to pre-set before death (Facebook Help Centre 2016). Others, such as Twitter, establish blanket rules that ensure users accounts will be deactivated after a specified amount of time (Hollon 2014, p. 1033). There continues to remain numerous grey areas surrounding legal processes concerning ownership of social media content after death. An issue that will need to be resolved as social media continues to become permanently embedded into the human existence.

Journalist Michael Hiscock, predicts that by 2065 Facebook will be overrun with deceased users, truly a ‘digital graveyard’ (Hiscock 2016, para. 4). We’ve certainly entered the digital age if it is now necessary to include in your will, “and in the case of my death I hand over my Snapchat to…”. On that note, be right back, going to go talk to my lawyer to ensure no one gets access to my Tumblr account when I’m gone.

For a comprehensive analysis on the various procedures required for posthumous account deactivation across social media platforms see here.

How do you feel about it?

  • Should a robot keep active for you?
  • Should your sites be deleted?
  • OR should it just remain untouched, in memorial of you?

Comment below.

Coldwell, W 2013, ‘Why death is not the end of your social media life’, The Guardian, 18 February, retrieved 1 December 2016, <>.
Facebook Help Centre 2016, Memorialized Accounts, Facebook, retrieved 1 December 2016, <>.
Gaied, M 2016, ‘Data after death; An examination into heirs’ access to a decedent’s private online account’, Suffolk University Law Review, vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 281-300, retrieved 1 December 2016, Legal Source database.
Hollon, J. R 2014, ‘Tweets from the grave: Social media life after death’, Kentucky Law Journal, vol. 102, no. 4, pp. 1031-50, retrieved 1 December 2016, Legal Source database.
Hiscock, M 2016, ‘Dead facebook users will soon outnumber the living’, The Loop, 20 June, retrieved 1 December 2016, <>.
‘The art of social media’ by mkhmarketing available here under a Creative Commons Attribution.