Additional violation of privacy

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safe city

We’ve already grown used to the surveillance cameras. Now there are microphones beside the cameras and in the not-so-distant future facial recognition apps will be installed. Privacy in public spaces is already a thing of the past.

When you go shopping, when you fill your tank at the gas station, when you stand in line at the airport: there is something there that sees you and records you. Record of all your movements is stored in specially designed computer systems. Everywhere you receive service now-a-days, whether in Israel or abroad, chances are you are being recorded, you are being followed,

It started out as a device for the prevention of terror and serious crimes, continued as a deterrence tool for thieves and now it’s used in order to improve marketing methods. Thousands of electronic eyes and ears are following you, and they are becoming more acute every month. ‘Big brother’ sees and hears almost everything.

Like in many other things the change was brought about by the 9/11 terror attack in New York. The traumatic event gave the American government justification to violate their citizens’ privacy, and other states followed suit.

In the aftermath of this terror attack, systems all over the world are being set up to follow anything that moves. Cities operate surveillance camera networks, public building have hundreds of cameras installed, not to mention airports. Cameras take shots day and night and everything is stored, ready for quick retrieval.

Now they’ve started attaching sensitive microphones to the cameras. Chicago city police has installed 70 listening device systems throughout the city. The microphones are tuned so that they can receive and identify the sound of a gunshot from the distance of two streets away. Los Angeles too is about to install microphones: the city police is planning to start with 50 listening systems. In Tihuana, Mexico, they’ve already set up 500 of these listening systems. San Francisco, New Orleans and Atlanta are examining the possibility of joining.

You may not be aware of this, but as of the moment you enter an airport you are being followed by hundreds and sometimes thousands of closed circuit TV cameras. Each of your movements is documented. Even when you are in the back rooms, ostensibly safe from prying eyes, some device is following you. Airports where only a small number of cameras was used in the past, only in key locations, have in recent months set up hundreds and thousands of additional cameras.

Attaching mics to the cameras forms an additional violation of privacy. I’ve no doubt the issue of microphones in public spaces will be brought up in court soon. It is impossible to continue this way. You’re standing with a friends at a street crossing, having a private conversation, and on the street light above you is a mic recording everything you say. It has the technology to filter out street noises and focus only on you.

In addition they are starting to equip some of the cameras and mics with facial recognition applications. So that if you are on the list of suspects your picture is added to the picture bank these devices are connected to. The minute your face shows up on their inconspicuous system police cars are sent to wherever you were last seen.

Big brother in action.