© Luca Giacomelli
University of Florence (Italy)
We live in a surveillance society. Bodies become data. Information is plumbed from the body but treated as separate from it, facilitating the creation of a separate virtual ‘body-as-information’. Although social contexts are abstracted away, discriminations are solidified and replicated. Are we really sure that this virtual space is neutral? Tied closely to the surveillance and social control is the classification of sex and gender. Far from being a unifying category, surveillance becomes one of those mechanisms generating exclusion, discrimination and gendered patterns that are collected and circulated in the virtual space. Information technologies haven’t freed from the oppressive gendered discourses that accompany biological embodiment.
The law is unable to go beyond ‘the dilemma of difference’ and surveillance is no exception. Surveillance is innately conservative epistemology and puts normative pressure on non-normative bodies and practices. We can challenge the supposed neutrality of information technologies and surveillance techniques: (i) Virtual bodies discrimination (recognize that big data includes biases in who the data represents); (ii) Context/use discrimination (social contexts are already marked by sexist relations, then surveillance technologies tend to amplify those tensions); (iii) Discrimination by abstraction (surveillance operates upon masculine and paternalistic logic).