Digital Citizenship and Citizen Surveillance

Digital Citizenship and Citizen Surveillance


Digital citizenship can be said to be defined by the people’s action, instead of the status of belonging to a nation-state and the right and the responsibilities that come with it as by Hintz, A, Dencik, & Wahl-Jorgensen, (2017).

Surveillance in our current world is one of an inescapable part in the world. It has been even more difficult to hide from it because of the technology. Every time we make a telephone call, send an email, browse through the internet, or even walk in the streets, there possibility of our actions being monitored and recorded.

Governments all over the world have come up with an extensive and technologically advanced surveillance strategy to be able to combat crime, terrorism threats and also be able to improve on the efficiency of their administrations. The surveillance is carried out both to the knowing and unknowing citizens. Monitoring is not only being used in the private sectors but also the private sectors. The collection of personal data and its processing have almost been taken for granted. The Surveillance method is unknown to most people, and their potential consequences are not fully appreciated.

The paper discusses the perspectives of the citizens toward the Surveillance.  The fact that we are digital citizens are we are always in touch with our social and political environment through digital media, and the digital tools and platforms have become an essential part in our society go a long way to show us that there are different perspective and views toward the surveillance. Citizens are making a claim for their digital rights all over the world in the digital environment.




Historical Context

Citizens surveillance can be traced back to the technological advancement that brought about photography, the phonograph, and the telephone. The late- nineteenth- century brought about the intensification of contemporary surveillance. It can thus be seen as an elaboration of new media from this period that evidence of the communication technologies thrived.

The government has carried out the surveillance throughout, and it has only increased in the 20th century due to the sophisticated computer-based monitoring systems.

The occurrence of the Edward Snowden leakages about how the government was doing surveillance on it citizen can be seen as a turning point. The citizens have aired their views on the issues, and within the first six months of his leaking’s there were debates on the issue, but the subject was limited and miscast

The leaks by Edward revealed that there is a form of surveillance that has been dubbed as “new form Surveillance.” The monitoring is based mostly on the use of the internet. The internet can thus be considered as one of the factors that led to the establishment of the surveillance.  The growth of the social networking sites and the development of profiling and behavioral tracking system and their equivalents change the range of the information that is available.

Surveillance can also be associated with the Jeremy Bentham idea of building prisons that will facilitate the continuous observation of prisoners. He enlightened ideas that there are privileges of visions as a mean of order and control. He favors more remote and individuated methods that emphasize and encourage self-discipline in the controlled population, be they the prisoners or citizens. The suggestion could be seen as what drove the government to use the surveillance.



The surveillance of the society is primarily concerned with how the new technology development offers the government, the private companies a chance to know the citizens and “customer” in a more personal term.  The Government and the private sectors can see categorically see this as a way of being able to generalize the citizens and the customers and be ready to serve them as according to their categories.

According to Charon, (2012) to be able to generalize one need to be able to understand the various characters. The government has thus taken upon to understand its citizen to be able to conclude them and also to categorize them. Generalization is a broad field for the government to handle; it thus uses the data to be able to walk in the situation that the citizens are going through. They use the data obtained as a way to get a remarkable ability and be able to figure out how and why the citizens act in the way they do.

When the government is dealing with information, it may be subjected to the stereotyping categorization. For example, when doing surveillance on areas that are populated with the African – Americans, some assumption or the already known information like crime rates are high in the area may be used. In a real sense, not all African Americans are involved in criminal activities, but they are all considered too. The stereotyping by the government/ the people that are mandated to do the surveillance may be seen to be affected by the cultural context, and this can be said to be “Cultural Stereotyping.”

The citizen that are subjected to the surveillance has seen some of their rights being forgone. One of the reasons can be said “privacy rights.” The freedom that states that an individual should be left alone by identifying some personal data and then considers them as an individual space. The data is private and should be protected. Most of the citizens feel that the establishment of the surveillance hiders them from living a secret life as they wish and they think they are living a private life through negotiation.

The information that is lingering around indicates that every aspect of the person is under surveillance. Categorically, this is penetration into their private lives, and this generalizes the government as doing the wrong thing. The stereotype in the information has labeled the government as the “bad guy” and the citizen as the victim. When Edward leaked the information about the surveillance, there was wave throughout the world, the announcement of the Chinese Government on a system that will handle the monitoring was not also welcomed as by Fu, (2013).

The government has thus been stereotypically judged to be doing the wrong thing, and it has consequently led to the people advocating for technological environment rights that will protect them from anybody that try to use their personal information against them which I would consider as right. The feeling of your privacy being broken tend to be a disturbance in one’s mind knowing that there is nothing that you can do without somebody’s else knowledge.


In consideration to the two sides of the argument, it is clear to know that the generalization and the categorization theories are posing as the primary challenge when it comes to an understanding the intent of the government and the thought of the citizen. Harrison, (2015) says if the citizen were to have more information on how the government is using the data it collected they would then stop judging stereotypically. Similarly, the government when receiving the data should do it without the stereotyping judging. The government should also be able to respect the private space of the citizens.

The amount and the accuracy of the government collect on a person varies from one person to another. Some people will spend a lot of time online both creating account at different services, and communicating with friends and relatives. This kind of people will tend to leave a lot of information online than those who spend little time online. It is due to this reason that the government should carefully analyze the information that is obtained and be able to avoid stereotyping judging.

The citizens on the other hands should regulate what they are posting, viewing in their browser, and each activity that they are handling while online. In our advanced technological world, the payment is being even made through the internet, and thus, the citizen should be careful about the information that they give out.



The culture Surveillance exhibits solid forms, and they are always changing, but there is a common feature that was that can be explored. As explored in the paper, the perspectives that the citizens and the Government base their argument can be considered to be all true, and at the same time, they are all right. The central concept of the paper is to make them understand that the generalization mode and their categorization is what matter and not the information that is provided. The information that is collected can be used appropriately for the country.




Hintz, A., Dencik, L., & Wahl-Jorgensen, K. (2017). Digital Citizenship and Surveillance| Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society—Introduction. International Journal of Communication11, 9.

Charon, J. M. (2012). Ten questions: A sociological perspective. Nelson Education.

Ritzer, G. (1996). The McDonaldization thesis: Is expansion inevitable? International Sociology11(3), 291-308.

Harrison, K. B. (2015). U.S. Patent Application No. 14/330,385.

Fu, H. (2013). Politicized challenges, depoliticized responses: Political monitoring in China’s transitions. Surveillance, Counter-Terrorism, and Comparative Constitutionalism.