French Journal for Media Research

Ali Erdem AKGÜL

Freedom or Safety, the Dilemma of Technology-Based Surveillance Systems in the Context of E-Government
Applications: A Case Study of Citizens’ Perceptions on the Surveillance in Aydın-Turkey

Résumé

Cet article se propose de répondre aux questions suivantes : Les technologies de l'information renforcent-elles la position des citoyens face à l'État? La société obtient-elle une gouvernance plus démocratique en raison des applications du e-gouvernement? Ou est-ce le contraire? Les personnes pourraient-elles être suivies, surveillées et reçues sous surveillance plus facilement? Lorsque la «sécurité» est en cause, l'état de «consentement» pour se défaire de la liberté personnelle et de la vie privée sera analysé.

Abstract

This paper aims to assess following questions: Do information technologies strengthen citizens ‘position` against state more? Does the society get a more democratic governance due to the E–government applications? Or is it vice versa? Could people be tracked, be monitored and be received under surveil­lance easier? Is the tendency to be able to budge from some rights and freedom seen in question of “security”? When the “security” is in question, the “consent” state for budging from personal freedom and privacy will be analyzed.

Texte intégral

Introduction

1 The emergence of informatics revolution overshadow even the current mass media's history with the development of computer technology and Internet technology has spread opportunity to communicate so that there is no period, literally millions of people at all levels in the organization are connected by a network. Such social organization of a restructuring process is an improvement that can be expected. Just as information technologies democratize the production, sharing and distribution of knowledge; in the institutionalized relationship available for hundred years and also exposed to constant change among ‘’citizens with the state, directed with the managed“ can also mean drastic changes as well.

2 The agenda of searching new ways and methods for establishing, continuing the relations is natural. Because connecting the citizens who are getting more demanding to the system through the democratic participation is required. The usage of information and communication technology in governance has brought e-government and e-democracy applications on the agenda. In this context, important changes in the concept of citizenship are emerging.

Conceptual Framework

3 The state is a social and political phenomenon that has been for centuries. Country, human society, power and legal-political order are the main elements of the state (Poggi, 2012: p.15).  At the same time the state is undergoing certain transformations over time. Today certain changes which the state is undergoing is being observed. Today information technology has become one of the indispensable basic elements of life of individuals and society and it has resulted in the emergence and development of new managerial models. "E-government" is the most important of these models (Sanders, 2004: p.212).

4 Information systems have been started to be used to perform the activities under such names as e-government and e-transformation, particularly in public sector and among these activities, registration of personal data is an important issue. The usage of personal data registering based projects rises day by day in such procedures as numbering the citizens and online registration data processing under the name “MERNIS project” (Central Register Management System).

5 Likewise, the rise of the activities regarding the personal data registration brought the security matter into question in this issue. Accordingly, the data security problem has become a matter in practice rather than a matter in theory.

6 According to Lyon (1997: p.30-32), the sociologist did not take a deep interest in the discussion regarding the private life and data protection apart from a small number of exceptions. To investigate the issue is considered as the job of other disciplines. Therefore, it is essential to make sociological investigations on this field ignored. Lyon emphasizes that there are even infiltrations into houses in today’s condition. It seems that there is not even one single place left to hide in anymore and all places happen to be open to all public and transparent, invisible to us but visible to others. The protective walls of privacy are in a digitally destroyed condition. Without regard to how the privacy is perceived in the past, this conception is today closely related to avoidance from the surveillance.

7 As the surveillance becomes denser and denser in all fields of social life, the privacy gains importance more and more to preserve some personal information and to provide supervision for the circulation of this information without any restrictions.

Research Methodology

8 This study, which is based on a field survey, aims to investigate the condition regarding the ‘freedom – security’ contradiction of e- government practices within the scope of technology based monitoring systems. "Survey" technique was applied via face to face interviews in all neighborhoods in city center. Closed-ended, open-ended and semi-ended question types were used in the survey. In the analysis of data obtained from the surveys the SPSS 18 program (Statistical Packages for the Social Sciences) was used. Descriptive analysis for determining the current situation was done with this work.

9 Also, purposeful/purposive sampling technique was used in this study. For the purpose of taking advantage of the sampling techniques; to cover different segments of society, in accordance with the purpose of reaching all segments in all neighborhoods it is aimed to provide maximum variety in the city center of Aydın. Thus, the detection and resolution of the current situation is aimed to be provided. A total of 650 questionnaires were applied in this framework.

Research Findings and Discussion

Data of General Characteristics the Participants in the Survey Application:

10 The survey consist of a set of sample 650 people. Considering the gender distribution of the sample set, the rate of male population is 49.5%, the rate of female population is 50.5%. Data on the age distribution of those who were included in the sample surveyed is as follows: Ages between 18-24 years 27.1%, ages between 25-32 years 31.5%, ages between 33-40 years 17.5% years, ages between 41-48 years 10.5%, ages between 49-56 years 8.6%, ages between 57-64 years 4.0% and ages over 65 years 0.8%.

11 Data of respondents’ marital status in the sampling is as follows: 47.8% single, 47.1% married, 2.3% widowed and 2.8% divorced. Within this research, the data of   respondents’ education status  in the sample is as follows: 0.6% illiterate, 3.2%  literate, 15.4% graduated from primary school, 27.7% high school and vocational school graduates, 10.5% university students, 35.4% graduated from university or college  and 7.2% post graduate .

12 Respondents’ vocational / work-oriented data in the sampling is also as follows: 20.2% civil servants, 6.2% workers , 9.1%  artisans, 6.2% self-employed, 21.8% of private sector employees, 1.1% industrial-trader, 13.2% students, 5.7% were retired, 16.6% unemployed.

Data of the participants’ approach to “e-government and civic relations in the context of perceptions”:

Table-1:

Do you have any information about

e-government?

Frequency

Rate (%)

Yes

464

71.4

No

186

28.6

Total

650

100

13    The  proportion of who have any information or aware of e-government (electronic government) is 71.4% in the sample set. The rate of 28.6% is not aware of it. So those who were included in the sample survey, part of 71.4% use e-government; or even though  has not used, has information about it. 28.6% have no information about the e-government or are not aware of it.

Table-2:

Do you rely on government services made on the internet?

Frequency

Rate (%)

Never Trust

42

6.5

No Trust

122

18.8

Neutral

250

38.5

I Trust

209

32.1

I Trust Much

23

3.5

No Answer

4

0.6

Total

650

100

14 Attitudes towards processes done on the internet of government services are as follows: "I do not trust" 6.5%, "do not trust" 18.8%, "Neutral" 38.5%, "I trust" 32.1%, "I trust much"  3.5% and "No Answer" 0.6%. According to research findings, the rate of total trust in e-government  processes done over the Internet is 35.6% . In this context, the rate of those  who  tend not to have confidence is 25.3 % in total. Another remarkable point here is indecisives’ high rate of 38.5%.

Table-3:

Do you think e-government put the security and confidentially of personal information at risk?

Frequency

Rate

(%)

Valid Percentage

Cumulative Percentage

I certainly do not think

22

3.4

4.7

4.7

I do not think

140

21.5

30.2

34.9

Neutral

104

16.0

22.4

57.3

I think

126

19.4

27.1

84.4

I certainly think

36

5.5

7.8

92.2

No idea

36

5.5

7.8

100

The cluster who shouldn't be responding to this section of the survey

186

28.6

-

-

Total

650

100

100

-

15 In the sample set; 28.6% have no information about the e-government or are not aware of it. For this reason, these participants can not answer to some questions in the questionnaire. Therefore, in this study, some tables presented with the valid percentage.

16 Answers to the question ‘’whether e-government imperil security and confidentiality of personal information’’ are as follows: “I certainly do not think" 4.7%, “I do not think" 30.2%, "Neutral" 22.4%, “I think" 27.1%, “Definitely I am thinking" 7.8% and "No Idea" 7.8%. Findings show that the level of rates for those who think  e-government imperil ‘”security and confidentiality of personal information’’ (which is 34.9% in total) and the level of rates for those who do not think in this way (the 34.9% in total) are the same. However, it should not be overlooked that one out of every three people have anxiety in this context.

         Table-4:

Do you think you are monitored because of systems based on technology?

Frequency

Rate (%)

Yes

356

54.8

No

191

29.4

No idea

103

15.8

Total

650

100

17 In the sample set, the proportion of those who think that they are monitored because of technology-based systems is 54.8%; the percentage of those who think they are not monitored is 29.4% and the ratio of those who had no idea about it is 15.8%. These findings show that surveillance sentiment is in  high status because of the systems  based on the technology.

18 In this context, there are many approaches and debates in the literature. "Surveillance" phenomenon  is one of the topics discussed today. Surveillance today is not a new specific application. But it came to the fore with the development of technological tools. Today, depending on the rapidly developing trend of information technology, all the rest of everyday life and social relations within both private and public areas are affected by this process. Current dimensions of the concept "surveillance" is essential to be examined which has the central character in sociological point of view and  is effected by advanced information technology.

Table-5:

If you think you are monitored because of systems based on technology, how often do you feel in this way?

Frequency

Rate (%)

The cluster who shouldn’t be responding to this section of the survey

294

45.2

Every Time

82

12.6

Often

82

12.6

Sometimes

141

21.8

Rarely

51

7.8

Total

650

100

19 The percentage of those who think they are not monitored is 29.4% and the ratio of those who had no idea about it is 15.8%. Total of them (45.2%) are the cluster who shouldn't be responding to this section of the survey.

20 In the sample set, among those who think they are monitored because of systems based on technology, the data that how often they feel in this way is as follows: "Every Time" 12.6%, "often"  12.6%, "sometimes“ 21.8% and “rarely" 7.8%.

Table-6:

If you think you are monitored because of technology-based systems; on what issues do you feel that you are monitored?

Frequency

Rate (%)

The cluster who shouldn’t be responding to this section of the survey

294

45.2

Telephone speeches

52

8.0

Internet use; social media accounts, IP addresses of e-mail and computer

53

8.2

Cameras-Mobeses (CCTV)

37

5.7

Bank account activities,issuance of TC ID to many places, tracking chips in cars and GBT (Criminal Record Check)

23

3.4

Physical follow

16

2.5

Political issues and newspaper / magazine I read

37

5.7

Security of personal information/data and privacy / confidentiality

39

6.0

That the rapid pace of technological advances also increasing the possibility of surveillance / tracking creates unease and escalates the concern of becoming a "surveillance society"

40

6.2

I fear that citizens are labelled

32

4.9

My sentiment that being monitored is in limited level, I do not think being monitored intensively I think this risk is greater in people in certain strategic locations

27

4.2

Total

650

100

21 The proportion of  data of "Those who think being monitored because of technology-based  systems, on which issues they feel  this”  is as follows: "Phone calls" 8.0%, "Internet use; social media accounts, IP addresses of e-mail and computer (Internet Protocol Address)” 8.2%, “Cameras / Mobeses” are 5.7%, “the Bank account activities, giving TC (Republic of Turkey) ID numbers in many places, monitoring chips in the cars  and GBT (Criminal Record Check)“ 3.4%,"Physical track“ 2.5%, "Political issues and newspaper / magazine I read  “ 5.7%,  “Personal information / data security and privacy/secrecy“ 6.0%, "that the rapid pace of technological advances’ increasing the possibility of  surveillance / tracking  is creating unease and escalates the concern of becoming a surveillance society“ 6.2%, “I fear that citizens be labeled  “ 4.9%, "My feeling spied on is at a limited level, I do not think surveillance conducted intensively ; I think this risk is greater in people in certain strategic locations “ 4.2%.

22 According to these findings, it is obvious that the citizens are being felt monitored  in many areas. In fact this situation reveals what the supervision and control  come to size and how they are perceived by the people. In this context, it can be argued that issues such as ‘’the security and confidentiality of personal data, privacy’’ will remain on the agenda and discussed much.

23 They are sociologically important findings that the technological developments have increased the monitoring facilities and that the citizens state their worries about being a surveillance society. This fact shows the contradiction that technological developments have disadvantages as many as its advantages. It is of great importance that this is figured out by a number of citizens.

24 Furthermore, according to the Turkish Value Study carried out country wide in Turkey in 2012; the number of people worrying about a possible intrusion into their phone lines and their e- mail boxes amounts to 52% (internethaber.com, 2012: p.5). In this study, it shouldn’t be neglected that the rate of the people worrying about a possible follow-up for their phone talks and e-mails has remained too high.

Table-7:

What do you think about the usage of Mobese Camera Systems etc?

Frequency

Rate (%)

I feel safe

155

23.8

I feel spied

64

9.8

I find useful

289

44.5

I consider very common use of it is intervention to private life / privacy

97

14.9

No idea

36

5.5

Other

9

1.5

Total

650

100

25  In the sample set, the rate of  data that how the use of the systems "Mobese (Mobile Electronic System Integration) camera etc. is met" is as follows: "I feel safe" 23.8%, "I feel being watched" 9.8%, "I find it useful" 44.5%, I consider the very widespread usage of it intervention in private life / privacy" 14.9%, "no idea" 5.5% and "others" 1.5%.

26 Here the most striking point is that in many stages of research, while many feedbacks were taken from the critical aspect in the context of security of supervision, control and personal data, there has mainly emerged  useful and positive findings in the context of the usage of the Mobese camera systems etc. (city surveillance camera systems) in this question. In "Other" category, trend that ‘’Surveillance cameras should not be placed everywhere because it is disturbing’’ has come to light.

27 Here the emergence of  trend of sacrificing certain rights was identified when it comes to security. Seeing the practical benefits of practices that contribute to safety, a positive trend has come to fore about the Mobese cameras.

28 Is it allowed to sacrifice the privacy, confidentiality and personal freedoms when it comes to security of the people as seen in terror events in the USA and Europe recently? A number of discussions are present in the literature regarding this issue. For instance, considering the situation after  9/11 attack   as a fight against terror and later on as a state of war, the USA governance has claimed that these attacks may have an influence on the balance of freedom and security and that the civil rights  may be evaluated in various ways in case of wars.

“Cross tables” created between certain questions  in order to improve the comparison opportunity in research framework:

Table-8:

image

29 We see the following when we interpret the table above: Many people think they are being monitored  because of systems based on technology. However, including a large part of those who think they are watched; mobese  cameras are generally found useful. This point is very important; because  parallel to  "when it comes to security liberty may remain in second" approach datas seem to have emerged here.

30 While "yes, I think I am watched" trend is mainly available to the question  "Do you think you are monitored due to technology-based systems?" ; there is a noteworthy "I find it useful and I feel confident" trend answer to the question " How do you think about using  the systems like Surveillance cameras etc.?

31 When it comes to safety, emergence of compromising certain rights trend  is one of the many discussions held over the recent situation. For example; as it is seen in some of the events like 9/11, Charlie Hebdo terror attacks and other  crime incidents, concession to compromise individual freedom, private life or privacy  can be argued when the case is "security". The results from this research support that "security" has priority.

Table-9:

image

32 According to the findings of the research, there is an overlap between the endangering of the personal data security and privacy by e-government and the surveillance by means of technology based systems. Those who think that e-government endangers the privacy and secrecy of personal information also think that they are monitored by technology based systems on a large scale.

33 Even 40% of those who are of the opinion that the privacy and secrecy of their personal information are not endangered do think that they are watched through the technology based systems. These outcomes demonstrate that surveillance, wiretapping events experienced recently have an influence on the people. The tendency or in other words the worry of being monitored, wiretapped, traced and endangering their personal data and privacy turns out to be present.

34 There is another part of people who think that this is a side effect of technological developments. However, their number is less when compared to others. These findings give clues about how the technological developments are assessed regarding pros and cons. It has been emphasized many times that technological developments do not bring a pure improvement and the other side of the medallion should be taken into account as well.

Table-10:

image

35 The findings of the research revealed that the majority of the people thinking e-government practices don’t endanger the safety and secrecy of personal information consider mobese cameras useful and reassuring. The most conspicuous point here is that even almost half of those who think that e-government practices may harm the privacy of the personal data find the usage of mobese camera systems useful and reassuring. In this respect, it can be concluded that the camera existences in daily life is considered to be advantageous. The thought that mobese camera systems provide benefit and contribute to the security is quite overwhelming.

36 As regard to the usage of mobese camera systems, the “other” category emphasizes that placing cameras everywhere is irritating and that there might be some abuses rather than using it for absolute security. These statement and approaches indicate that there are some problems to occur on the issue of trust.

Conclusion

37 As a result, one of the effects of the information technologies on the individual and the society is their relevance to the confidentiality and private life. Electronic technology which gradually becomes more complicated and improved has started to penetrate into all dimensions of daily life. Thus, a new social structure seems to be formed and new relation kinds may also come out.

38 Likewise it is possible to say that individuals and societies are more vulnerable to tracing, controlling and directing through technology. The information technologies facilitate the monitoring and controlling, and they also provide great opportunities for these processes. This can result in narrowing of the privacy and secrecy. Therefore, it is necessary to make sociological surveys on the relation between information technologies and privacy.

39 Does internet strengthen the position of the individual and make him/her freer in this respect? Does a society become more democratic or possess a more democratic environment via Internet? Or does the other way around happen and are the societies easily traced, monitored and kept under surveillance? These kinds of discussions seem to remain and keep going on. We also encounter the finding among those coming out with this research that the measures should be taken against the negative effects of the technology as it is impossible to avoid using it completely. Nonetheless, the dimension of the worries about these negative effects of technology is in a remarkable level.

40 The claims that such information technology practices as e-government may harm the privacy and secrecy of personal data are one of the most important obstacles in front of the prevalence of these practices (Aydın, 2012: p.529). The findings of this research also support this idea. A number of citizens claim that they are monitored through e-government or similar technology based systems.

41 Another remarkable issue among our findings is that a number of participants are of the opinion that they are monitored due to the technology based systems. However, mobese cameras are mainly considered useful even by those including people thinking that they are watched.

42 This contradiction is of great significance as such outcomes are revealed that people sacrifice their freedom when it comes to their security. Whereas people are mainly tend to answer the question of “do you think that you are monitored due to technology based systems?” by “Yes, I do think that I am monitored’’, it is striking that they also answer the question of “how do you evaluate the usage of mobese cameras?” by “I find it useful and I feel myself secure”.

43 It is one of the situations about which many discussions are going on recently that the tendency occurs to sacrifice some fundamental rights when it is all about the security. As seen in the terror events and some crime occasions in the society such as the 9 /11 attacks and Charlie Hebdo attack, “consents” can be shown to sacrifice the personal freedoms, privacy and confidentiality if the security is in question. The outcomes of this study also support the idea that security is privileged. The opinion that mobese camera systems provide benefit for daily life and contribute a lot to the security is quite overwhelming.

44 In the literature, there are a great number of discussions and approaches regarding the privacy, surveillance and safety and secrecy of the personal data, and these issues become more and more up-to-date. It is evident that this condition has and also will have some sociological consequences; there is no doubt that sociological surveys are needed about the foregoing issues.

Bibliographie

AYDIN, Mehmet Devrim; (2012), Veri Güvenliği, Mahremiyet, Gözetim Uygulamaları ve E-Devlet (E-Devlet: Kamu Yönetimi ve Teknoloji İlişkisinde Güncel Gelişmeler), (Edt. Sobacı, M. Z. & Yıldız, M.),  Nobel Publishing, 1st Edition, Ankara.

LYON, David; (1997), Elektronik Göz, (Translated by Hattatoğlu, D.), Sarmal Publications, İstanbul.

POGGI, Gianfranco; (2012), Modern Devletin Gelişimi (Sosyolojik Bir Yaklaşım), (Translated by Kut, Ş. & Toprak, B.), İstanbul Bilgi University Publications, 6th Edition, İstanbul.

SANDERS, Larry; (2004), Building a Research Agenda fort he Transformation of Governance (E-government Reconsidered: Renewal of Governance for the Knowledge Age), (Edt. Oliver, E. L. & Sanders L.), Canadian Plains Research Center, Regina.

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Pour citer ce document

Ali Erdem AKGÜL, «Freedom or Safety, the Dilemma of Technology-Based Surveillance Systems in the Context of E-Government», French Journal for Media Research [en ligne], Full texts/Numéros en texte intégral, 7/2017 Mises en scène du politique contemporain/Theatricalization of the Contemporary Politics, Mises en scène du politique contemporain/Theatricalization of the Contemporary Politics, mis à jour le : 19/12/2016, URL : http://frenchjournalformediaresearch.com/index.php?id=1193.

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Adnan Menderes University
alierdemakgul@gmail.com, aeakgul@adu.edu.tr