UPDATE…Here is what NASA says about Why we study earth?
POWER, RESISTANCE, AND DEVIANCE
WITHIN A RESOURCE EMPIRE PANOPTICON
Bachelor of Arts
Winona State University
A paper submitted in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the
Master of Arts Degree in Journalism and Media Studies
Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies
Greenspun College of Urban Affairs
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
May 8, 2015
Paper Submission for: Information Access and Control in an Age of Big Data
Topic: Insights regarding government and corporate surveillance.
This research examined historical accounts regarding the origins and substance of electronic surveillance. A broad definition of surveillance was adapted since having control of resources both human and other was the impetus of the surveillance state according to some science and technology historians. The results indicated historical creation stories were diverse. In light of this new framework media articles were selected and analyzed that covered some aspect of the “Resource Empire Panopticon” i.e., Earth– for better or worse. Areas of conflict within this panopticon context include those groups either in the developed or developing countries. More specifically how one group controls what is to be remembered (prospect of future environmental catastrophe) and what is to be forgotten (responsibility for historic emissions). Another area of longstanding contention is between international versus isolationist ideals as described by social historians and was also mentioned in Joseph Aldy’s policy paper. The major goal of this work is to describe how the international community (led by the developed nations) used surveillance and monitoring in order to exert its power on the sovereign (developing) countries as well as subverting the best interest of its own people in favor of the will of a technological elite.
THE ORIGINS & INTENTIONS OF ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE
The main goal of this paper is to further explore and build upon historical narratives regarding the origins and the metaphysics of “electronic surveillance” (Turchetti and Roberts, 2014, p. 147). This was accomplished by asking but probably not fully addressing the questions: What is it? How does it work? What is it made of? What did it cost? Who paid for it? Who and where are the watchers that control it? Where, when, why, and how was it created? What is its reason for being? What does it want? How can those under the gaze resist or dismantle it or part of it? This was done by re-framing the topic of surveillance using a broad multi-disciplinary approach. The border containing this subject was expanded with a broad yet in-depth historical analysis as a main method. The secondary sources provided multiple narratives that described the creation of the surveillance state. These stories or historical lenses were overlaid on top of primary historical artefacts such as official records and speeches that were utilized during this research. Resource Empire Panopticon examples from the media were categorized within this modified framework of surveillance that resulted from the historical analysis. Articles from the media were sampled via a convenience sample since this research is largely exploratory. They were analyzed because they highlighted some facet of the panopticon effect theory which percolated up from the news coverage of the transnational resource monitoring in action.
Some examples represented positive aspects for society while others were negative (according to one’s perspective). These examples from the media were categorized as describing those in power, those resisting the power but still abiding by the rules, and deviants working directly against the system and its core rules and values. The justification for this work was captured by another researcher when
he said, “Critical and historically aware analyses of the origins of modern environmental monitoring technologies are essential to understanding why as well as how such technologies have been adopted, and to ground informed decisions on their usage: as Melvin Kranzberg famously put it, technology is neither good nor bad, but neither is it neutral” (Turchetti and Roberts, 2014, p. 11).
Foucault would have agreed as well “where modern theories tend to see knowledge and truth to be neutral, objective, universal, or vehicles of progress and emancipation, Foucault analyzes them as integral components of power and domination” (Best, 1991, Chapter 2). Foucault expounded the belief that “individuals are controlled by institutions. Contemporary society is characterized by the lack of free will on the part of individuals because institutions of knowledge, , and , are in place to categorize and humans” (Boundless). This way of thinking i.e. technology can’t be neutral resists some of the ideas put forth in Joseph Aldy’s paper sponsored by the Resources for the Future organization that has ties to John Podesta who is one of President Obama’s chief advisors. For example under the section entitled “Credibility of Information” it says “national governments have effectively delegated such surveillance responsibilities to international organizations, and these entities can play important roles by generating “neutral” information” (Aldy, 2014, p. 4). It also stated,
International climate negotiations occur within a system of international relations in which sovereigns maintain significant discretion of action and enjoy substantial deference in their policy decisions. This poses a challenge to designing multilateral agreements and institutions, especially in contexts characterized by strong free-riding incentives such as global climate change. An extensive literature on international agreements shows that information-creating mechanisms enhance the transparency of and can support participation and compliance in such agreements (Aldy, 2014, p. 1).
Finding a way to make surveillance as neutral as possible while instilling resource control compliance will be a future challenge considering well documented past imperialistic imbalances (Pat
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
According to Turchetti and Roberts, “surveillance is too often regarded as a discrete activity linked to concrete state aims rather than a more general imperative to understand and control both the earth and its inhabitants
” (Turchetti and Roberts, 2014, p. 2). If one added private aims to this indictment Gary T. Marx and many other researchers in the media studies, sociology, and psychology fields are all guilty of framing the topic of surveillance and privacy too narrowly and thereby give themselves the opportunity to miss the big picture. For example Marx defined “new surveillance” (Marx, 2004, p. 20), listed instances of “rulings” favorable to civil liberties and concepts of privacy (p. 32), then highlighted societies “resources to fight back” (p. 33) against intrusions on only one’s “personal data” (p. 33). Consider, “Human communications were—and still are—a miniscule part in this traffic, which includes data from the oceans, the surface and interior of the earth, and the sky” (Turchetti & Roberts, 2014, p. 1). According to some historians “the bifurcation between surveillance as the stereotypical Orwellian challenge to free society and as a set of seemingly innocent scientific practices that have to do with gathering of environmental knowledge draws a moral distinction that obscures common origins” (Turchetti and Roberts, 2014, p. 2). Though worse than that the topic of gathering non-human environmental signals is excluded from most academic discussions (this author is aware) at least in the surveillance and privacy context. This is a problem because it negates discussing the origins and original reasons for being considering electronic surveillance. Historians are now focusing on this topic and how “surveillance networks owe their existence, or at least sophistication and extent, to the dramatic expansion of funding to the geosciences after 1945” (Turchetti and Roberts, 2014, p. 2).
If the world ever decided to curtail surveillance it could re-examine the United Nations General Assembly’s “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space
.” This treaty drafted by a few superpowers took away rights countries traditionally had regarding the space above its country. This information could be helpful for those trying to switch the surveillance and drone attacks off (or a certain part of it) or somehow control the information going out from above or missiles coming in–instead of just giving the program a name change as a result of political pressure and public opinion (Clymer, 2003).
Marx said, “There are no permanent victories in the liberties business” (Marx, 2004, p. 34). This may be true but there are ways individuals can level the playing field namely by becoming more proficient in surveillance literacy. As he concluded “vigilance, knowledge, and wisdom are likely to help” (p. 34) in this area–so this paper is an effort to further these ideals. Although in order for society to win more permanent “rights” (Marx, 2004, p. 34) it must dismantle or defund the sections of surveillance it deems undesirable at the root source. Otherwise it will continue to receive paper promises that melt when the storm clouds of strife unleash fear. To do this one must first know thy enemy and then decide if it is an enemy, friend or something in between.
Historical analysis from science and social historians was used to construct a framework that assessed the pros and cons of surveillance on society by looking at environmental monitoring anecdotes from the media. For example what is the nature of surveillance? Where did it come from? Why is it here? Why are Universities here
? Who created it, when, and for what purpose? This is an area of study which is important because without knowing what something is one won’t be able to read it properly. This process of understanding from an elemental level is an essential step in order for a citizen to decipher the black box of surveillance (although resistance at this point is getting to be almost futile).
In order to achieve this objective areas of study include surveillance history and its reason for being. The first step is describing the power of surveillance and where it originates from. This paper calls this source the “Resource Empire Panopitcon” based on the book by Turchetti and Roberts. Surveillance was then judged in this paper as either good or bad for society with help from a book by Stewart Patrick called “The Best Laid Plans: The Origins of American Multilateralism and the Dawn of the Cold War” whose history also set the hegemonic framework theme. This process was done by citing specific instances of resource surveillance discussed in the media which highlighted the impact, potential, and relationships associated with the power, resistance, and deviance of surveillance.
Katrin Kaschadt’s article entitled Jeremy Bentham__The Penitentiary Panopticon or Inspection House in the book [CTRL] Space: Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother describes surveillance architecture designs and theories that came to Jeremy Bentham who was from the upper class of British society around 1787. This was during enlightenment times when society thought it could solve all of its problems with reason (Kaschadt, 2002, p. 116). The panopticon
was “a way of obtaining power, power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example” (p. 114). This gaze came from a “God-like” (p. 115) “single, superior authority” (p. 114) in the center who could keep tabs on everyone yet no one watched him. This situation describes the Resource Empire Panopticon since the superpowers or developed nations have traditionally kept some of its knowledge obtained from electronic surveillance top secret. This theory was applied to many other areas for example Bentham’s blueprint with a “central viewing position” was transferred to other prison systems, theaters, and zoos around the world (Kaschadt, 2002, p. 117).
The present research argues the entire planet has incrementally become a type of prison or panopticon–for better or worse. This inclination is present visually in the Information Awareness Office (IAO) logo that consists of an “all-seeing ‘eye” (p. 119) surveilling an image of the planet Earth with the description “SCIENTIA EST POTENTIA” or knowledge is power. The method and mechanisms for how this takes place is discussed in the science journals as “technology will soon allow the world to be mapped in near-real time and at high resolution…the potential for operational monitoring of the planet” (Butler, 2007, p. 778). This type of interdisciplinary sharing of information is essential for strengthening surveillance literacy.
The mechanisms for monitoring emissions shares a panoptic trait in that once it is created the system is automatic in that not many people are needed to carry out the measurements or collect the signals. Also the watchers contact with the watched is minimal to none. Also no one watches the watchers. Roger Launius
described this aspect in a section entitled Defining and Dealing with the “Watchers (Turchetti and Roberts, 2014, p. 159). He said “Total Information Awareness,’ and its success in Poindexter’s mind ensured that traditional rights of personal privacy ensconced in law in the United States had to be curtailed” (p. 159). At the same time “the answer to ensuring US hegemony in space rests in no small part with the protection of the nation’s satellites and other space-based capabilities while denying the same capability to potential adversaries” (Turchetti and Roberts, 2014, p. 161). This leaves the question “who’s watching the watchers” (p. 165).
This section casts a gaze back to the center of the “Resource Empire Panopticon” starting with its history. The following quote speaks of the continuity regarding surveillance, “Watching over enemies (political and otherwise) has been an essential feature in the exercise of power since time immemorial” (Turchetti & Roberts, 2014, p. 1). This is true regarding recent history for example,
Both superpowers, especially the US administration, conceived the capacity to monitor the earth within a framework of control through strategic influence, without the need for explicit sovereignty over colonial spaces. This led to the establishment of infrastructures that routed signals from overseas outposts to central homeland units devoted to their analysis. (Turchetti & Roberts, 2014, p. 1).
The discontinuity that ushered in a new age had to do with the hegemonic balance of electronic surveillance power considering developed (colonial) and undeveloped (colonized) countries. For example science historians used “surveillance as the central analytic concept” to “explain how a constellation of disciplines, namely the geosciences, benefited from this research for novel means to
monitor the enemy instigated by the confrontation between superpowers. Disciplines that eventually became imbued with ‘greens’ values—especially through environmental monitoring—flourished within a geopolitical context in which watching over enemy states and alliances was at least as important as the ‘assault on the unknown” (Turchetti and Roberts, 2014, p. 2&3). So whereas Turchetti and Roberts framed the enemies of surveillance as being colonial subjects of the superpowers Gary T. Marx said “personal information” in general was under attack (Marx, 2004, p. 19). This is also the way Edward Snowden frames the fight for example he is protecting the entire internet community not the superpowers against the colonies (traditional or economic).
This next very recent historical source by Joseph Aldy called The Crucial Role of Policy Surveillance in International Climate Policy represents the leading edge of this surveillance system decades in the making. This source represents the main “who” associated with surveillance. The Non-government organization (NGO) who published this report is called Resources for the Future. They have ties to President Obama’s administration. Joseph Aldy is a professor at Harvard Kennedy School the same place where the chief negotiator for climate change teaches. The one main thing these democrats have in common with the Bush dynasty and Henry Kissinger is they all belong to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR has been for international causes pitting it against isolationists as far back as World War I (Patrick, 2008, p. 25). Another source of the power is elite scientists which Eisenhower warned against in his “Farewell Speech” which was also mentioned by Turchetti & Roberts in the conclusion of their book. The next step after identifying the power or source of the Panopticon gaze is to find out what kind of behavior it wants to impart upon those being watched.
According to an article in The New York Times the Obama administration cannot pass a binding carbon or climate treaty (Broder, 2009, p. A10). Since this is the case an agreement that is non-
binding is the next best thing. This is because the power of the panopticon will be able to change resistant and deviant behaviors– Josheph Aldy explains how:
Schelling (1956) suggests that transparency and publicity of a party’s ex ante pledge and ex post outcome can enhance the credibility of commitments. The “publicity” called for by Schelling can be established by the “information structures” created by the rules of international institutions (Keohane 1998). Transparency mechanisms can facilitate “naming and shaming” and the prospect of adverse reputational consequences for deviating from an agreement may promote compliance (Simmons 1998; Chayes and Chayes 1991). Even without an enforcement mechanism, information-generating institutions may “contain deviance within acceptable levels. (Klabbers 2007, p. 1004)” (Aldy, 2014, p. 3).
The following are all examples from the media that display positive or helpful aspects of the “Resource Empire Panopticon”. First of all, “More than 80 percent of the world’s major oil and gas-producing and mining countries fail to meet ‘satisfactory standards’ for managing their natural resources, according to a report tracking global resource mismanagement and corruption” (Volcovici, 2013). The reporter cited a, “New York-based Revenue Watch Institute” which “released its first Resource Governance Index…, which scores and ranks 58 countries according to the level of transparency and accountability in their oil, gas and mining sectors” (Volcovici, 2013). One could see how this type of information could empower the public at large.
Monitoring the air for pollution protects the public and the power of the panopticon is to thank in this situation. For example, “The Air Quality System (AQS) is EPA’s repository of ambient air quality data. AQS stores data from over 10,000 monitors, 5000 of which are currently active. As discussed in more detail elsewhere, State, Local and Tribal agencies collect the data and submit it to AQS on a periodic basis” (EPA, 2015). The electronic surveillance system can also monitor for climate change for
example, “NASA’s uncrewed Global Hawk research aircraft is in the western Pacific region on a mission to track changes in the upper atmosphere and help researchers understand how these changes affect Earth’s climate”, 2014). Also“in the international fight against poaching, eyes in the sky could make all the difference” (Qiu, 2014). Since “drones already act as wildlife police, scoping out poachers in Kenya and Nepal. With a $5 million grant from Google, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has launched aerial surveillance in remote areas in Africa and Asia, where endangered species like elephants and rhinoceroses are most vulnerable to illegal trafficking” (Qiu, 2014).
Michel Foucault said “where there is power, there is resistance” and “these points of resistance are present everywhere in the power network” (Foucault, 1990, p. 95). This part of the paper focuses on these resistance points pertaining to resource and emissions monitoring. The “Foucaultian approach puts practices of remembering and forgetting in the context of power relations, focusing not only on what is remembered and forgotten, but how, by whom, and with what effects” (Medina, 2011, page 9).One source of resistance which is making the signing of a binding international carbon treaty so far impossible is those low lying island nations and developed countries that want the developed nations to remember its past sins and make larger carbon cuts (Gillis & Davenport, 2014, p. 10). The mechanism for appeasing this barrier whose members said, “Don’t tell us you can’t cut emissions, you can’t give money, while you bask in the rich way of life you enjoy now” (p. 10) is to give them money.
internationally verifiable monitoring system are a direct infringement on their national sovereignty…[therefore it was decided] an agreement that focuses on emissions monitoring might be easier to implement than an arrangement based on binding emissions reductions.”
This idea surfaced in another media report when “Mr. Obama gave a veiled warning that satellite technology could be used for what is likely to be termed “eco-spying” to ensure countries honoured their commitments. ‘We can actually monitor what takes place through satellite imagery and so forth, so I think we are going to have a pretty good idea of what people are doing,’ he said. He added that the deal could be successful if ‘there is a sense of moral obligation and information sharing so that people can see who’s serious and who’s not”. (Gray, 2009).
According to some media reports, “The prospect of political resistance to greenhouse gas tracking prompted an elite government advisory panel known as “JASON” to recommend developing a new CO2-monitoring satellite to determine whether countries comply with international climate pacts. While current technology can track yearly emissions directly from ‘cooperative countries’ with a 20 percent margin of error, only a satellite can keep tabs on nations that resist such monitoring, JASON scientists warned (Morello & ClimateWire, 2012).
Another story highlights resistance by the Chinese when “Mr. Obama, whose speech included remarks that appeared pointe at China’s resistance to mechanisms for monitoring emissions reductions, met privately with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao afterward. But Mr. Wen did not attend two smaller, impromptu meetings during the day that Mr. Obama and United States officials conducted with the leaders of other world powers, an apparent snub that infuriated administration officials and their European counterparts.” (Broder, 2009, p. A10).
Apparently China no longer harbors concerns regarding its carbon dioxide data. This is probably because it now has its own carbon monitoring satellite. Although when it was a major issue this confrontation was framed visually in an infographic entitled Highlights of the Climate Accord under the section “THE ACCORD ON: Monitoring” it said, “Developing countries will monitor emissions and compile data domestically…with provisions for international consultations and analysis.” Next to this under the section entitled “WHO WON OR LOST?” it said “The industrialized world insisted on international monitoring. China, in particular, was resistant.” (Broder, 2009, p. A10).
The source of the resistance is common sense. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao “urged the world to understand the fact that development remained the top priority of developing countries” (, 2009; Lomborg, 2013). He also stated, “Some say that we should not get bogged down by history (that industrialized countries contributed the majority of greenhouse gas emissions in past centuries). But this is a fact that we must face” (, 2009). This fact is not being faced according to some media reports for example, “The top American envoy to climate talks here flatly rejected arguments Wednesday by diplomats from poor lands that the United States owes a debt to developing nations for decades of American emissions that contributed to ” (Revkin & Zeller, 2009).
It is important to remember that “Michel Foucault believed that torture had been phased out from modern due to the dispersion of ; there was no need any for the wrath of the on a deviant individual” (Boundless). Instead organizations use other means in order to elicit the
type of behavior it wants from individuals. This final section highlights examples of deviance that emerged as a result of increased surveillance i.e., “information-creating mechanisms” (Aldy, 2014, p.1). “In , are actions that do not go along with the social ” (Boundless). In the “Resource Empire Panopticon” being skeptical of the greenhouse effect theory earns one the title of a deviant. Therefore “the institution’s ability to change norms, wealth, or status comes into conflict with the individual. The legal rights of poor folks might be ignored, while the middle class side with the elites rather than the poor. Conflict theory is based upon the view that the fundamental causes of crime are the social and economic forces operating within society” (Boundless).
When it comes to defining surveillance keeping it broad is the best approach for example “In this light we might fruitfully think of environmental surveillance as a means to detect signals, packets of data that could be unpacked to reveal intelligence with value in multiple contexts” (Turchetti & Roberts, 2014, p. 2). From this starting point future research might want to further track surveillance creation narratives in order to predict future electronic surveilance implications. Furthermore the panoptic theory is versatile and can also be applied to future resource situations. For example the State Water Resources Control Board of California is asking its citizens to watch for water wasters.
Although sensors and remote connections are giving organizations more control over the water supply low tech surveillance in the form of a neighborhood watch via visual collections and then reporting through an online form, app, or telephone number coming from citizens is currently being utilized as well. Low tech carbon dioxide monitoring solutions might help developing countries feel more comfortable giving up its data (Kinver, 2013). Also paying the people in the community to monitor its own forest would provide jobs and a possibly a sense of wanting to protect the forest.
According to Foucault, we now live in “[…] a society of surveillance, which locks people into the mechanism of the panoptic machine that they themselves maintain” (Kaschadt, 2002, p. 119). This is what Dwight D. Eisenhower was warning about in his “Farewell Address” of January 17, 1961 (Turchetti and Roberts, 2014, p. 165). This speech is known for its “warning about the potency of the military-industrial complex, which he said had the ‘potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power” (p. 165). According to Launius “what has mostly been forgotten is Eisenhower’s equally strong warning about the ‘danger that public policy itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite” (p. 165). The world is now at a turning point and surveillance literacy for the masses is going to be important if they are going to become self-aware and able to influence policy in its best interest.
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Jason Thompson received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Law & Society from Winona State University and the International University Of Ulaanbaatar where he studied U.S.-Mongolian Foreign Relations 1860-1920. He also attended programs at Hennepin Technical College in Minnesota, Soonchunhyang University in the Republic of Korea and at the University for Peace in Costa Rica. He has a Master of Arts degree from University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he focused on how climate control was visually framed in the media using content analysis, enhanced weathering techniques that create power and control atmospheric carbon dioxide percentages and high-energy x-ray applications. Jason has wrote for Diesel Power and The Costa Rica News.
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