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In the latest episode of the Louder than Words Podcast, Professor Jules Pretty journalist Martha Dixon look at surveillance and the impact on our lives.
Academics from the University of Essex explain how they are contributing to the debate; helping people understand their rights and also trying to work alongside innovators to explain the implications of their technology.
Dr Daragh Murray from the Human Rights Centre at Essex says people don’t realise how quickly our relationship with technology is changing. He says: "I work primarily on issues to do with human rights and new technologies. We are looking at the impact and what that means from a human rights perspective.
“The world is changing pretty fast - with the advent of digital technology and computer and smart phones – they record what we are thinking. So it allows much more pervasive surveillance. That shifts the balance of power between what the state knows about individuals. We are at the start of that new era. We are trying to understand it better to protect the type of society we want.”
Dr Murray says they are trying to work in partnership with people and companies so they can understand the impact of a specific technology and its potential impact on society and individuals.
To understand this new world better, the team from the University of Essex undertook ground-breaking research by going out with the police to monitor facial recognition technology being trialled. The issues they raised have led to discussions with politicians and policy makers in the UK and Europe. Professor Pete Fussey now leads the human rights strand of a national strategy for surveillance oversight on behalf of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner.
Professor Fussey points out there are several areas where they have made recommendations for users of the technology such as the way authorisation is given to use technologies which might impact on someone’s rights. They are also raising questions about how tech can influence decision making for workers who are increasingly relying on that tech, such as the police. Professor Fussey says: “How do you challenge what a computer is telling you?”
Find out more about the work of Professor Fussey and Dr Murray in the podcast, you’ll also hear from Policy and Campaigns Officer at Liberty Emmanuelle Andrews.
Professor Jules Pretty and journalist Martha Dixon have created the Louder than Words podcast to encourage difficult discussions, to offer a platform to people making a difference and to explain how you can take action on issues you care about.
The Louder Than Words Podcast shows how research delivers solutions to global problems, how we can improve people’s lives and how we can inspire people to take action now. Each episode of Louder Than Words will look at a key global issue or research challenge and give you a chance to hear from leading researchers, policy makers, thinkers and campaigners plus those directly affected by the issue.
The first season looked at climate change, migration, mental health, inequality and nature as therapy. The second season will look at the Warner Textile Archive, telecommunications pioneer Marconi, disasters and how we prepare for them, our planet and crop production and surveillance technology. Join us and subscribe to upcoming podcasts.