Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management

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Volume 11 Issue 1 (March 2003), Pages 1-48

Some Information Age Techno‐Fallacies (pages 25-31)

In research on computer data bases, work and electronic location monitoring, telephone identification systems and drug testing1 I encountered comments such as: “turn the technology loose and let the benefits flow”; “do away with the human interface”; “only the computer sees it”; “that has never happened”; “there is no law against this”; “the technology is neutral”. These are all examples of what can be termed information age techno‐fallacies. They are part of the cultural undergirding of routine data collection practices and an optimistic, techno‐surveillance worldview that is strongest in, but is hardly restricted to, the United States. They reflect a broader celebratory ethos of technology and commerce. To understand technologies for collecting personal information, we must understand the ideational environment in which they are nourished and in which they flourish. Before a surveillance technology is adopted, it is important to examine the broader cultural climate, the rationales for action and the accompanying empirical and value assumptions.

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