Valikko

Sleepwalking Toward a Control Society? Ten Must-Know Trends



4. Criminalization of everyday life

While increasingly sophisticated technologies are used to control citizens, also criminalization of legitimate expression, and adoption of restrictive legislation to justify such measures have been deployed (La Roye 2011). Consequently, the definitions of crime tend to lower and alter, but also sanctions may become stricter (e.g. copyright violations, Hadopi Law).

Citizens' juridical position has already practically changed. Citizens may become defined easier as a suspect and even detained in some cases without a valid evidence of a crime if their data indicates some connections. People can be labeled guilty based on the vague evidence of their data - and it is their responsibility to proof that they are innocent (e.g. in case of Hasan Elahi, Elahi 2011). However, this may be an impossible challenge for citizens, if they don't have access on the same data than their prosecutors have. Also, the logic of new practices is completely different from the adopted in juridical practices in many countries according to the Habeas Corpus -principle: citizens are innocent until proven guilty - a fair court trial should precede detention (Habeas Corpus).

At the broadest level, these developments manifest themselves in such models of national level data collection, which previously targeted only for the purpose of criminal investigations like fingerprint and DNA-databases. Countries have swiftly expanded biometric identification methods and implemented or extended databases for the collection of identifying data e.g. fingerprints and DNA (Privacy International 2007).

Same type of lowering criteria concern policies of surveillance (EDRI 2012). People become easier as targets of stricter surveillance, because used criteria of surveillance have not only lowered, but also become vague and versatile. Justifications to stricter surveillance do not need to have links to any crimes, but even peaceful activism and "abnormal behavior" may lead to increased attention (Dziech 2011, Johnston 2009). Especially minorities and marginal groups have already become targets of increasing surveillance (Monahan 2010).

Citizens are treated increasingly as a potential risk for a society, and data surveillance is used to estimate the level of risks they imply (Heinonen 2008). The concept of pre-crime detection reflects extreme interpretation of these ideas by focusing on any "abnormal behavior". Mike Presdee describes these kinds of practices as development as "the creeping criminalization of everyday life" which leads to the "habitualisation and homogenization of everyday life and the disappearance of space" (Boyarsky 2002, Presdee 2000).

The surplus of these developments is a combined use of mass surveillance, lowered level of criminalization and vague concepts of sanctions - and normalizing of these arrangements and extending their focus instead of keeping them as exceptional laws (Saas 2012). These development directions can be recognized even in some Western democracies e.g. in France and USA (e.g. Khaki 2012, Saas 2012). As such, these arrangements legalize permanent monitoring of groups and individuals, which are treated as a risk for a society, by prioritizing risk management over accountability and civil rights (Saas 2012).