Surveillance is frequently understood as aiming to monitor people’s behaviour: to see what they are doing now or have done in the past. But there is a second dimension to surveillance: it also shapes our behaviour going forward. What can a gender perspective on both these dimensions of surveillance teach us about the multiple harms of surveillance? And how can this understanding in turn deepen our efforts to fight surveillance’s multiple harms?
While the surveillance powers of the Indian government and its agencies are continuously expanding and companies, too, grab more and more of our data, most people still seem to think that this is not something that affects them. If you have not done anything wrong, you have nothing to hide, right?
Not quite. And women would know. Although the digital age may have further deepened the scrutiny to which women are subject, women have always been under stringent surveillance — by actors ranging from partners and parents to the state. And this has shaped, and harmed, women’s lives in multiple ways.
What can be learned about surveillance from gendering it, then? And what do these insights imply for the fight for stronger human rights protections in the face of surveillance more broadly?
With our work on gender and surveillance, we hope to make more concrete the multifaceted ways in which widespread surveillance shapes, and harms, our lives.