Nowadays, we live in a highly protected society wherein we are continuously being watched, our activities are tracked and our behaviour is controlled. It’s like we aren’t human but aliens coming from foreign planets. We are watched as if we may be threatening to society.
Offense of Being Watched
Let’s understand, who is watching whom? Humans are watching humans for the protection of human. Isn’t it sounds weird? But, it’s a fact. Here, I am talking about the use of CCTV. You may see this line written over everywhere; “Beware, you are under the surveillance of CCTV.” You look at any corner of a premise and you see the statement written plus an electronic eye watching over you. We feel different as soon as we realised we are being watched. It becomes our mentality that any actions we may indulge in can be used against us. We feel helpless.
This kind of conditions could be observed in the workplace, shopping mall, stadium, food outlet, classrooms and home premises. How we can justify the electronic monitoring of people at the workplace as well as other zones? Don’t you think sometimes privacy is hampered by CCTV surveillance?
One of my friends left her job suddenly. Her employer was good, the job was satisfactory, the salary was attractive and work surrounding was pleasant. Everything was going fine, but her sudden resignation raised doubts among employer and other staffs. She was hesitant to share her problem, and she thought better to keep it secret. Somehow I managed to get the reason. She said to me she was terrified and felt being tortured on observed and taunted all the time. It was the time when she took a break for sometimes and left her desks, she was called for the meeting. Knowingly, she took an important call at the workplace and again pointed at. She plugged in ear phones and played music, and once again she was asked to stop doing such acts. She felt like a slave working for her master. Her each and every activity was observed and controlled. It was enough of her to take all the taunts, and suddenly she felt she can’t work where behaviour is controlled so badly. And hence she stop going to the office the next day.
Was she right? Do electronic eyes are making us feel conscious of our free choices and doings? Do we feel uncomfortable over someone watching us every second? Does our free flow of behaviour is restricted? How well this behaviour of observing each and every employee’s activity is justified?
Ethics in Technology
Companies give justification that such technologies are used to increase the productivity of their employees. But, controlling and conditioning behaviour could be effective for how long? There are continuous warnings given unnecessarily to the employees. They are left helpless. They don’t have any red buzzer to press and ask their employers to stop. They helplessly perform tasks like a machine. This may leave negative impressions on the mind frame of employees. They may feel hesitant to behave freely. Sometimes, they may feel like running away from such an atmosphere. It becomes so difficult for them to breathe properly and work. The concept of being watched every time is a kind of barrier to our personal privacy. When the use of technology starts giving troubles, then it becomes a high time to rethink and implement the right changes.
Stair (1992 p.655) clearly mentions the ethical problems in the use of technologies at workplaces. According to him, people privacy is completely threatened by the use of such restrictive technologies. It can also lead to a feeling of fear of all ways being watched- he called it the Panopticon phenomenon.
To summarize, Technology is considered as a boon and should be only used in need. Too much of the technologies around could become evil and raise many observable as well as unobservable problems. No wonder, beware of CCTV is just like beware of ‘excess use of technology’.