“The machine doesn't judge”: Counternarratives on surveillance among people accessing a safer opioid supply via biometric machines

Original research
Bardwell, Geoff et al

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Open Access / OK to Reproduce


Peer Reviewed



The aim of this paper is to understand participants' experiences of surveillance, privacy, and personal security when accessing the MySafe biometric vending machine program.

Findings/Key points

While participants described negative experiences of surveillance in other public and harm reduction settings, they did not have concerns regarding cameras, collection of personal information, tracking, nor staff issues associated with MySafe. Similarly, while some participants had privacy concerns in other settings, very few privacy and confidentiality concerns were expressed regarding accessing the machine in front of others. Lastly, while some participants reported being targeted by others when accessing the machines, most participants described how cameras, staff, and machine locations helped ensure a sense of safety. Despite negative experiences of surveillance and privacy issues elsewhere, participants largely lacked concern regarding the MySafe program and machines. The machine-human interaction was characterized as different than some human-human interactions as the machine is completing tasks in a manner that is acceptable and comfortable to participants, leading to a social preference toward the machines in comparison to other surveilled means of accessing medications.


Qualitative interviews (n=46)


Digital health
About PWUD
Barriers and enablers