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‘Stop The Cyborgs’ was founded in response to the combination of wearable technology with ‘big data’. The aim of the movement is to stop a future in which privacy is impossible and where the iron cage of surveillance, calculation and control pervades every aspect of life.

With a camera or a phone and taking a picture is clearly delineated act where the social signal is clear. You are taking a photo and taking on the role of camera man. With wearables like Glass, Autographer or Memoto only the mode that the device is in changes. There is no physical stance and no change of role on the part of the person. You just happen to be recording.

The issue is not covert recording. Spy cameras exist and the current generation of Google Glass is not particularly good for covert recording. Rather the first issue is that that wearable devices socially normalise ubiquitous surveillance. That is they create a society where we expect to be recorded, where every moment to is shared, documented and data-mined.  The second issue is that wearable technology blurs the line between people and tech, between individuals and institutions. The moral agency of the individual is reduced when a corporation forms part of their extended body, when every decision is mediated and influenced. The freedom of society and the possibility of genuine authentic response is threatened when every action is monitored and gamified.

The threat is not just to privacy but liberty, fairness and justice. The risk is that we will be ruled, not by an obvious dictatorship, but more insidiously and completely by authority embedded in the design of techno-social systems. True totalitarianism made invisible because it appears in the form of code, electronic devices and feedback loops.

Downloadable Signs

You can download the following images (free for non-commercial use). Click on the images below to download high resolution versions. Put them up to ban people from wearing Google Glass to help protect your privacy.

If you are not sure if you qualify as non commercial use or would like support us. You can buy professionally printed stickers, t-shirts and posters from the our store: Stop The Cyborgs Store


Thanks to ARDesigns & Tapstudio for the ban signs and logo design. We would also like to clarify that you are free to use these images in blogs or press articles even if they are for profit.

Disability rights & assistive devices

Some people may need to use assistive aids for example:

  • A visually impaired person may choose to use a wearable camera to assist them with navigation or reading.
  • Someone with Autism may choose to use a digital assistant that provides real-time assistance with reading faces during conversations.
  • Someone with memory problems may choose to use a device which assists their memory.

We ask that if you do ban Google Glass and similar devices from your property that you also respect the rights of such people and do not prevent them from using assistive devices if the device and data remains within the control of the individual.

The issue as we have pointed out elsewhere is not the device itself but rather ownership and control over the data, and power relations and social norms around surveillance and control. We need to  ensure that people can fully control their own body including any technological parts and be assured that they are not acting against their wishes or interests.  If the users do not have complete control over their devices then potentially your leg might stop working because of a payment dispute with your vendor or your vision might stop working during an anti-Government demonstration.

We therefore urge the designers of devices to ensure that the needs of all people are taken into account and that the device itself and all data gathered by these devices are within the control of the individual. We would also press for a legal right to control your extended body including rights over all and any data gathered.

What you can do.

  • Politely ask users to remove their device if they are wearing a device like Glass or Memoto where you feel it is in appropriate (e.g. where children are around, where people go to have a private conversations or where it might be damaging or embarrassing for people to be recorded.)
  • Download our ban signs and make your property a surveillance device free zone:
    • As a practical act which creates areas free of surveillance or highly intrusive surveillance.
    • As a symbolic act showing concern for privacy.
    • As a way of exerting social pressure to establish norms around usage.
    • As a way of exerting market pressure to discourage people from buying and companies developing these systems.
  • Use TagMeNot.info to indicate that you don’t want to be tracked.
    No personal details online please!
    I don’t want my face on the web
    I don’t want to be tagged.
  • Setup or join a local citizens privacy group and campaign for privacy oversight. (Seattle Privacy Coalition is an interesting model and could be applied to cities world wide.) While if you live in the UK you might want to join or start a local digital rights group.

Donations

The real need is for people to set up local groups so as to raise awareness among local businesses so please donate your time by promoting the cause but if you want to donate financially: Our Bitcoin Donation address is: 1EHZzPhBBDhVnQcpCRShH2fLtM8t5uCUWf