Selinger & Rhee on Normalizing Surveillance

Evan Selinger (Rochester Institute of Technology) and Judy Hyojoo Rhee (Duke University) have posted “Normalizing Surveillance” (Northern European Journal of Philosophy 22, 1 (2021): 49-74) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Definitions of privacy change, as do norms for protecting it. Why, then, are privacy scholars and activists currently worried about “normalization”? This essay explains what normalization means in the context of surveillance concerns and clarifies why normalization has significant governance consequences. We emphasize two things. First, the present is a transitional moment in history. AI-infused surveillance tools offer a window into the unprecedented dangers of automated real-time monitoring and analysis. Second, privacy scholars and ac- tivists can better integrate supporting evidence to counter skepticism about their most disturbing and speculative claims about normalization. Empirical results in moral psychology support the assertion that widespread surveillance typically will lead people to become favorably disposed toward it. If this causal dynamic is pervasive, it can diminish autonomy and contribute to a slippery slope trajectory that diminishes privacy and civil liberties.