In research and development of information and communication technologies for sustainability, there is a strong belief that human behaviour can be monitored at the individual level to generate different signals, and that these signals can be used to influence individuals to behave differently. We analyse Seventh Framework Programme policy documents published by the European Commission, and descriptions of research projects granted funding from it, to highlight the uncritical development and application of surveillance technologies to change human behaviour. We argue that EU-financed projects dealing with sustainability and information and communication technology use models of social change that have been widely criticised as unlikely to lead to substantial changes in resource consumption. Additionally, we show that these texts discuss only the potential positive effects of technological surveillance, but neither acknowledge nor require the handling of the potential negative effects of surveillance.

Changing Behaviour to Save Energy: ICT-Based Surveillance for a Low-Carbon Economy in the Seventh Framework Programme
Baki Cakici and Markus Bylund
ICT4S 2014 – Full text