Chapter 4: AI in public and private forms of surveillance: Challenging trust in the citizen-government relations
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Surveillance is an integral feature of online platforms, where users watch over one another, states and intelligence agencies watch over a target population, and companies watching over their audience. Surveillance and its impact on privacy and freedom of opinion and expression are well-known. As mentioned previously, online platforms collect data from users online activity, including demographics, psychographics, behavioral data, and metadata (i.e., data about data). Surveillance from governments can have two main purposes. On the one hand, intelligence agencies collect bulk data and use AI to identify potential threats to public safety and national security. On the other hand, governments and political parties use AI to analyze citizen conversations online (i.e., sentiment analysis and opinion mining) to understand what are the most pressing needs of their populations, as well as their opinions and arguments about specific topics. Lastly, surveillance is also conducted by private actors. The limited transparency and accountability of these forms of surveillance challenge the citizen-government relation and contribute to an asymmetry of power in favor of those with surveillance means.