Every Breath You Take

Over the next few weeks I’ll be discussing surveillance; online and offline.

But first: a story.

A few years ago I went on a holiday with my family to Vietnam. A beautiful country which I would highly recommend visiting, but that’s not the point of this blog. My parents booked the entire holiday online – which is normal – but the unexpected thing that happened, was my mother noticed that our entire itinerary was put into her google calendar… except she hadn’t been the one to do it.

Because all the bookings had been confirmed via email – her gmail account – all the information had been automatically put into the calendar. And not just things like “holiday begins/holiday ends” no no, this was exact locations in Vietnam on google maps, address and all, and also the duration of the stay at each place. Google does this automatically whenever you get an email about an event – a setting which can be changed. It meant we were essentially being watched for the entirety of the trip. This was a fair few years ago now, so that was pretty much my introduction to online surveillance.

Fact is, with pretty much every device having a location tracker on it, it’s possible for people to know exactly where we (or the device) are at any point in time. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, nor is it 100% a good thing – it’s just something that is. Surveillance is a part of everyday life now – from the location services on our phones being switched on – to the advertisements we are shown on Facebook which relate to our most recent google searches, everything we do is being noted down and used to cater to our needs, wants, and to help us realise the things we didn’t even know we wanted – yes I’m talking about the ASOS Sale banners that I get shown on Facebook (as if I wasn’t a broke uni student already). While you may not feel completely comfortable with being surveyed online, and having your data passed on, you pretty much signed up for it when you accepted the Terms and Conditions (at least on Facebook).


12 thoughts on “Every Breath You Take

  1. Thanks Josie-Amber your post completely opened my eyes to some of the more different ways surveillance forms part of our everyday life. Surveillance everyone assumes is CCTV police body worn cameras and spying. This post goes a long way to show us that surveillance is part of our daily routine and lives. I thought your post was most descriptive and explained the ways in which surveillance is applied to the relatively simple process of booking a holiday online. Cheers Patrick )


  2. Hey Josie,
    I enjoyed your blog post. I liked the way you controlled the conversation and told the story you wanted to tell in an informative yet entertaining way. Great work on embedding a hyperlink into your sentence as well. I really like your layout as well – I might actually use it myself! It would be good if you could include some sort of media such as photos, tweets, videos etc. just to break up the blog a bit more. Other than that I look forward to reading more of your blogs in the future.

    P.S. Great title for a blog post by the way: a stalker song for a stalker reality! #alwayswatching


  3. Wow! That story was insane! I knew about google / google calendar – but this is next level stuff! I really, really, enjoyed reading your blog post and hearing about you and your families personal “surveillance” experience! – seriously an eye opener!

    Perhaps you may want to consider finding some research / cases of others who may have experienced the same. Furthermore, you may want to embed some digital media into your article, Tweets, images, videos etc..


  4. What a great blog Josie. Very informative and somewhat scary as it is a real life story experience…
    Whilst I had some knowledge that google can add your events into a calendar, I certainly did not think about it in terms of planning a holiday and hence the great extent of you being tracked in so many different ways and so precisely. I enjoyed your use of embedded hyperlinks, they were very informative and eye opening for me.
    Some images would have enhanced the visual aspect of your blog.
    Perhaps to strengthen this blog you could add in some scholarly resources which explore the notion of privacy settings and incorporate some statistics of how many people actually know about these sort of settings and their ability to be changed.
    Looking forward to further posts!


  5. Hi Jos, I loved this blog! I felt like i was having a conversation with you and this gave my a really warm feeling. I love the fact that this is your entry blog into surveillance and has a relatable story to ease into the topic. Perhaps incorporating some creative commons pictures or even a tweet may bring your blog more to life. Your embedded hyperlinks work well and were a great perspective.

    You could possibly check out this article and use some topics for future blogging:
    Penney, JW 2016, ‘CHILLING EFFECTS: ONLINE SURVEILLANCE AND WIKIPEDIA USE’, Berkeley Technology Law Journal, 31, 1, pp. 117-182, Legal Source, EBSCOhost

    Overall really great blog i enjoyed it.


  6. Hey Josie! Can totally relate to the ASOS banner ads on Facebook (haha) but it really makes you realise how much tracking devices impact our lives today, for good and bad. I enjoyed the personal element of your post when you mentioned your family holiday and I liked the conversational tone throughout the post. Like the other comments, definitely consider adding some images, perhaps from your holiday or some screenshots, as well as some scholarly sources to strengthen it. Otherwise it’s a great start and good luck with the unit! -Abbey 🙂


  7. The title really caught my eye and easily set up the tone of the rest of your piece. Engaging, catchy and thought-provoking, your piece had a real personal element that made the reader relate to it. I especially liked the format you used, it had great readability and was easy on the eyes. The artist in me craves for the font style! The hyperlinks you included in your blog post really enforced the point you were making! However, I wished you pushed the weirdness of surveillance a bit more. I felt a bit underwhelmed with the ‘it’s just something that is’ mentality, but it is getting normalized to a staggering degree isn’t? Also having mixed media or academic quotes or resources would really push the credibility of the points you are making. Other than that, great effort!


  8. Hey Josie, I loved this blog you posted! Firstly, you got a very attractive blog title, that’s why I choose to read your blog. Your post completely opened my eyes, the story was extraordinary. I was completely absorbed in your post, and very enjoyed reading it. You combined your family experience to give us the more different view about the surveillance.

    Additionally, you may have to inset some digital media (images, tweets) into your article in order to make article more abundance. Furthermore, you may also provide some academic recourse to support your article. Overall, Josie it’s really a great blog, and I am looking forward to your further posts!


  9. Hey Josie! Still being very much a novice operating across these less common social media platforms myself (less in comparison w/ facebook, instagram, etc. I would guess?) I am probably not such an ideal judge in relation to someone else’s performance. However, I would still love to say that you seem to write and present yourself really enthusiastically and charismatically online – something I guess I hope is a sort of compliment-type encouragement to keep it up! Yes, it’s an interesting take, where you suggest that media’s growing presence:

    “…isn’t necessarily a bad thing, nor is it 100% a good thing – it’s just something that is. Surveillance is a part of everyday life now.”

    I would agree that there does seem to be very little that can be done to intervene with such a dominant force of globalisation. Although, I would tend to feel the need to dig a little deeper as to the positive and/or negative connotations surrounding this technological expansion, particularly as it continues to develop even further!!

    Kind regards,
    -James. :-)))


  10. Hi Josie! This was a really enjoyable post. I liked how personal and casual it was, making it really entertaining. I found it really strange what gmail did with the details of your trip, as I never really use it. I feel like what is made to act as a ‘convenient’ tool is borderline creepy. I also liked how you outlined how prevalent surveillance is in everyday life due to our use of apps and social media platforms, even online shopping.

    To enhance the engagement of your post I would recommend adding in some embedded tweets, images or perhaps a video to further enhance your main points. Aside from that, this was really well written and structured! ☺


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