July 12, 2010
Are technological advances infringing on our right to privacy?
The war on terror is a worldwide endeavor that has spurred massive investment into the global surveillance industry – which now seems to be becoming a war on “liberty and privacy.” Given all of the new monitoring technology being implemented, the uproar over warrantless wiretaps now seems moot. High-tech, first-world countries are being tracked, traced, and databased, literally around every corner. Governments, aided by private companies, are gathering a mountain of information on average citizens who so far seem willing to trade liberty for supposed security. Here are just some of the ways the matrix of data is being collected:
- GPS — Global positioning chips are now appearing in everything from U.S. passports, cell phones, to cars. More common uses include tracking employees, and for all forms of private investigation. Apple recently announced they are collecting the precise location of iPhone users via GPS for public viewing in addition to spying on users in other ways.
- Internet — Internet browsers are recording your every move forming detailed cookies on your activities. The NSA has been exposed as having cookies on their site that don’t expire until 2035. Major search engines know where you surfed last summer, and online purchases are databased, supposedly for advertising and customer service uses. IP addresses are collected and even made public. Controversial websites can be flagged internally by government sites, as well as re-routing all traffic to block sites the government wants to censor. It has now been fully admitted that social networks provide NO privacy to users, while technologies for real-time social network monitoring are already being used. The Cybersecurity Act attempts to legalize the collection and exploitation of your personal information. Apple’s iPhone also has browsing data recorded and stored. All of this despite the overwhelming opposition to cybersurveillance by citizens.
- RFID — Forget your credit cards which are meticulously tracked, or the membership cards for things so insignificant as movie rentals which require your SSN. Everyone has Costco, CVS, grocery-chain cards, and a wallet or purse full of many more. RFID “proximity cards” take tracking to a new level in uses ranging from loyalty cards, student ID, physical access, and computer network access. Latest developments include an RFID powder developed by Hitachi, for which the multitude of uses are endless — perhaps including tracking hard currency so we can’t even keep cash undetected. (Also see microchips below).
- Traffic cameras — License plate recognition has been used to remotely automate duties of the traffic police in the United States, but have been proven to have dual use in England such as to mark activists under the Terrorism Act. Perhaps the most common use will be to raise money and shore up budget deficits via traffic violations, but uses may descend to such “Big Brother” tactics as monitors telling pedestrians not to litter as talking cameras already do in the UK.
- Computer cameras and microphones — The fact that laptops — contributed by taxpayers — spied on public school children (at home) is outrageous. Years ago Google began officially to use computer “audio fingerprinting” for advertising uses. They have admitted to working with the NSA, the premier surveillance network in the world. Private communications companies already have been exposed routing communications to the NSA. Now, keyword tools — typed and spoken — link to the global security matrix.
- Public sound surveillance — This technology has come a long way from only being able to detect gunshots in public areas, to now listening in to whispers for dangerous “keywords.” This technology has been launched in Europe to “monitor conversations” to detect “verbal aggression” in public places. Sound Intelligence is the manufacturer of technology to analyze speech, and their website touts how it can easily be integrated into other systems.
- Biometrics — The most popular biometric authentication scheme employed for the last few years has been Iris Recognition. The main applications are entry control, ATMs and Government programs. Recently, network companies and governments have utilized biometric authentication including fingerprint analysis, iris recognition, voice recognition, or combinations of these for use in National identification cards.
- DNA — Blood from babies has been taken for all people under the age of 38. In England, DNA was sent to secret databases from routine heel prick tests. Several reports have revealed covert Pentagon databases of DNA for “terrorists” and now DNA from all American citizens is databased. Digital DNA is now being used as well to combat hackers.
- Microchips — Microsoft’s HealthVault and VeriMed partnership is to create RFID implantable microchips. Microchips for tracking our precious pets is becoming commonplace and serves to condition us to accept putting them in our children in the future. The FDA has already approved this technology for humans and is marketing it as a medical miracle, again for our safety.
- Facial recognition — Anonymity in public is over. Admittedly used at Obama’s campaign events, sporting events, and most recently at the G8/G20 protests in Canada. This technology is also harvesting data from Facebook images and surely will be tied into the street “traffic” cameras.
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