Friday, October 5, 2007

A world under surveillance

While yesterday's column by Robert Ellis Smith took a more optimistic view of the people's ability to prevent a full fledged "surveillaince society", this article by Stephanie Stein in The Suburban paints a more ominous privacy future. As privacy experts quoted in the article point out, the rise of surveillance technologies, particularly RFID's - on a global scale - should give serious concern to all of us that cherish our privacy...and liberty.

Thankfully in California, we have Senator Simitian leading the charge for common sense regulation of RFID technology, but in other parts of the country, and world, such action is not being seen, and in fact, are going the opposite direction.

Stein writes:

From surveillance cameras to data pirating, every bit of life is scanned and stored to meet economic and political agendas. Until awareness is heightened and proper legislation put in place, our right to privacy will continue to be violated, said privacy activists at the Privacy Rights in a World under Surveillance conference held last weekend at Montreal’s Sheraton Centre.


RFID is the modern model of the espionage tool first used in the Soviet Union in 1946. Today, the RFID chip can be inserted into passports, vehicles, animals, even into inventory systems. With global tracking boxes built into cars, and workplace monitoring devices that record everything you do, data mining is here to stay. Some experts believe the human microchip is not far behind.


From reader technologies that track our habits, to the surveillance of movement and profiling of passengers through Passenger Name Records (PNR) and entry-exit schemes, our right to privacy is on the verge of becoming obsolete.


Maureen Webb from The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) said since 9/11, the U.S. is demanding an integrated security environment where the population is biometrically registered, tracked and monitored. “Citizens’ information is stored for 100 years, and shared by agencies, without warrants, treating the entire population as suspects.”

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