chapter  7
22 Pages

Hijacking surveillance? The new moral landscapes of amateur photographing


These two simple vignettes are telling examples of what has been happening in the field of surveillance during the past ten years. In both cases, surveillance has a central role, yet they look very different. Vignette I taught Finns (even the police themselves) that surveillance was widespread but no one knew much about it, not to speak about having a camera register or other forms of legal regulation of surveillance. The cameras were treated as ‘eyewitnesses’: they happened to be there and were able to tell something afterwards. The case was strictly led by the authorities. It was easy to identify ‘the

good’ and ‘the bad’. In vignette II the authorities had no role whatsoever until after a long series of events: a passer-by, a mobile phone, YouTube, public attention, media attention, and eventually the security company worried about its reputation. Only after this were the police interested in the case. Individuals had a central role. First, the tape was shot by an independent bystander, then, the public debate started in the virtual community. Some individuals were fostering the debate, some just followed it. Altogether, the tape was viewed globally 172,362 times in the 11 months following the occasion. Furthermore, the case was fuzzy: the guards who are supposed to protect the public were committing a crime, a passer-by who is supposed to be protected as a member of the public took care of the surveillance work, and the police appeared as outsiders until the last moment.