The portable panopticon: morality and mobile technologies

Martin De Saulles, David Horner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this paper is to explore ethical issues arising from the mass deployment and take-up of mobile technologies. The ethical dimensions of mobile technologies and their use among the general population are considered within a conceptual framework drawing on James Moor's belief in a need for “better ethics” for emerging technologies and Michel Foucault's development of Jeremy Bentham's panopticon as a tool of surveillance. It is found that the mass deployment and use of mobile technologies amongst the general population raise some interesting questions about the changing nature of surveillance and the ethical issues that come out of this. The paper offers an original perspective on the ethical issues arising from new mobile technologies and surveillance, by inverting the established top-down notion of technology and control derived from Foucault.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-216
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • CCTV
  • Civil and political rights
  • Communication technologies
  • Ethics
  • Mobile computing
  • Web 2.0


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