As explained in the podcast, the Panopticon is essentially the idea of a tower that looks over a prison. The tower is illuminated so that the guard in the tower can see the inmates, but the inmates cannot see the guard. Although this could used to exemplify today's government surveillance, Walker disagrees, saying that it is a “terrible metaphor.”
To take a side in this debate is very difficult. On the one hand, the government has bribed sites like Yahoo, or Facebook, allowing them to access all of our information without our consent. On the other hand, data mining goes further than the negative assumptions we place on it. As Walker points out, in todays society we see data mining as exclusively negative. The government must be using our information for their personal gain right? However data mining does not solely have bad implications. One could use data mining to conduct studies in order to improve our internet experiences. You could also use data mining to research children in a comfortable setting. These are not bad things. In this case, I would agree with Walker.
However things get a bit sketchy when you remember the negative possibilities of surveillance. We do not know what the government is using our data for. They could be simply conducting research to better our lives, or they could be discovering ways to most efficiently imprison members of society in order to create a mass genocide. That's a bit extreme. But I guess it could happen theoretically. My point is, just like the prisoners, we do not know what the people in charge are doing. Because of this, I could never definitely say that the Panopticon is a bad metaphor.